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1888. / 


fist of (D^eiis 




G. L. GOMME, F.S.A., 1, Beverley Villas, Barnes Common, S.W. 











A. GRANGER IIUTT, F.S.A., 8, Oxford Road, Kilburn r N W. 
J. J. FOSTER, 30, Alma Square, St. John's Wood, N.W. 


Works by the same Author. 

The Aryan Expulsion and Return Formula among the 
Celts. Folk-Lore Record, Vol. IV 10s Qd. 

" Interessante etude de mythographie comparee." Revue Celtique. 

Mabinogion Studies, I. The Mabinogi of Branwen, daughter 
of Llyr. Folk-Lore Record, Vol. V 10*. Qd. 

" Eingehendes und sehr beachtenswerthes Studium." Prof. ERNST 

WINDISCH, in Ersch und G-ruber. 

"These careful and searching studies deserve to be honourably 
mentioned." Mons. HENEI GUiDOZ, in the Academy. t 







"Welchem Volke das Marchen (von Parzival's Jugendgeschichte) angehorte, welches die 
schriftliche oder miindliche Ueberlieferung mit der Gralsage in Verbindung brachte, ist schwer 
zu bestimmen, doch wilrde dasjenige Volk den meisten Anspruch darauf haben, bei welchem sich 
dies Marchen ausserhalb jenes Zusammenhangs nachweisen liesse." K. SIMKOCK. 

"The Celtic hero who in the twelfth century became Perceval le Chercheurdu basin . . . 
in the end became possessed of that sacred basin le Saint Graal, and the holy lance which, though 
Christian in the story, are the same as the talismans which appear so often in Gaelic tales . . . 
the glittering weapon which destroys, and the sacred medicinal cup which cures." J. F. 

" In all the Fenian stories mention is made of Fionn's healing cup . . . it is the same as 
the Holy Grail of course," J. F. CAMPBELL. 










"Description of the leading forms of the Romance : Conte del Graal Joseph 
d'Arimathie Didot- Perceval Queste del Saint Graal Grand Saint Graal 
Parzival Perceval le Gallois Mabinogi of Peredur Sir Perceval Diu 
Crone Information respecting date and authorship of these works in the 
MSS page 1 


Summaries Conte du Graal: Psuedo-Chrestien, Chrestien, Gautier de Doulens, 
Manessier, Gerbert Wolfram Heinrich von dem Tiirlin Didot-Perceval 
Mabinogi of Peredur Thornton MS. Sir Perceval Queste del Saint 
Graal Grand Saint Graal Robert de Borron's poem, Joseph of Ari- 
mathea . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . page 8 


The legend formed of two portions : Early History of Grail, Quest Two forms 
of each portion distinguished Grouping of the various versions Alter- 
native hypotheses of development Their bearing upon the alleged Celtic 
origin of the Grail Closer examination of the various accounts of the 
Grail : The first use made of it and its first possessor ; its solace of 
Joseph ; its properties and the effect produced by it ; its name ; its 
arrival in England 5 the Grail-keeper and his relationship to the Promised 
Knight Three different stages in the development of the Queste The 
work and the qualification of the Promised Knight Conclusions : 
Priority over Early History of Quest Chronological arrangement of the 
versions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . page 65 



Villemarque Halliwell San Marte (A. Schulz)^-Simrock Rochat Furnivall's 
reprint of the Grand St. Graal and of Borron J. F. Campbell Furnivall's 
Queste Paulin Paris Potvin's Conte du Graal Bergmann Skeat's 


Joseph of Arimathea Hucher: Grail Celtic, date of Borron Zarncke, 
Zur Geschichte der Q-ralsage; Grail belongs to Christian legend Bircli- 
Hirschfeld develops Zarncke's views : Grand St. Graal younger than Queste, 
both presuppose Chrestien and an earlier Q.ueste, the Didot-Perceval, which 
forms integral part of Borron's trilogy; Mabinogi later than Chrestien; 
various members of the cycle dated Martin combats Birch-Hirschfeld : 
Borron later than Chrestien, whose poem represents oldest stage of the 
romance, which has its roots in Celtic tradition Hertz Criticism of 
Birch-Hirschfeld .. . . .. page 97 


Relationship of the Didot-Perceval to the Conte du Graal The former not the 
source of the latter Relationship of the Conte du Graal and the Mabinogi 
Instances in which the Mabinogi has copied Chrestien Examples of its 
independence The incident of the blood drops in the snow Differences 
between the two works The machinery of the Mabinogi and the traces of 
it in the Conte du Graal The stag hunt The Mabinogi and Manessier 
The sources of the Conte du Graal and the relation of the various- parts to 

'*. a common original Sir Perceval Steinbach's theory Objections to it 
The counsels in the Conte du Graal Wolfram and the Mabinogi Absence 
of the Grail from the apparently oldest Celtic form . . . . page 127 


The Lay of the Great Fool Summary of the Prose Opening The Aryan 
Expulsion and Return Formula Comparison with the Mabinogi, Sir 
Perceval, and the Conte du Graal Comparison with various Gaelic 
marchen, the Knight of the Red Shield, the Rider of Grianaig Originality 
of the Highland tale Comparison with the Fionn legend Summary of 
the Lay of the Great Fool Comparison with the stag hunt incident in the 
Conte du Graal and the Mabinogi The folk-tale of the twin brethren 
The fight against the witch who brings the dead to life in Gerbert and 
the similar incident in the folk-tale of the Knight of the Red Shield 
Comparison with the original form of the Mabinogi Originality of 
Gerbert . . . . . . . . . . . , . . . . page 152 


The various forms of the visit to the Grail Castle in the romances Conte du 
Graal: Chrestien; Gautier-Manessier ; G-autier-Gerbert Didot-Perceval 
Mabinogi Conte du Graal ; Gawain's visit to the Grail Castle Heinrich 
von dem Tiirlin Conte du Graal : Perceval's visit to the Castle of Maidens 
Inconsistency of these varying accounts ; their testimony to stories of 
different nature and origin being embodied in the romances Two main 
types : feud quest and unspelling quest Reasons for the confusion of the 
two types Evidence of the confusion in older Celtic literature The Grail 


in Celtic literature : the gear of the Tuatha do Danann ; the cauldron in 
the TJltonian cycle ; the Mabinogi of Bran wen ; vessel of balsam and glaive 
of light in the contemporary folk-tale The sword in Celtic literature : 
Tethra ; Fionn ; Manus Parallels to the Bespelled Castle ; the Brug of 
Oengus, the Brug of Lug, the Brug of Manannan Mac Lir, Bran's visit to 
the Island of Women, Cormac Mac Art, and the Fairy Branch ; Diarrnaid 
and the Daughter of King Under the Waves Unspelling stories : The 
Three Soldiers ; the waiting of Arthur ; Arthur in Etna ; the Kyffhauser 
Legend, objections to Martin's views concerning it G-a wain's visit to the 
Magic Castle and Celtic parallels ; The Son of Bad Counsel ; Fionn in 
Giant Land ; Fionn in the House of Cuana ; Fionn and the Yellow Face 
The Vanishing of the Bespelled Castle Comparison with the Sleeping 
Beauty cycle The "Haunted Castle" form and its influence on Heinrich's 
version The Loathly Grail Messenger . , . . , . . . page 170 


' V 

The Fisher King in the Conte du Graal, in the Queste, and in Borron and the 

Grand St. Graal The accounts of latter complete each other The Fish is 
the Salmon of Wisdom Parallel with the Fionn Saga The nature of the 
Unspelling Quest The Mabinogi of Taliesin and its mythological 
affinities Brons, Bran, Cernunnos Perceval's silence : Conte du Graal 
explanation late ; explanation from the Fionn Saga Comparison of 
incident with geasa ; nature of latter ; references to it in Celtic folk-tales 
and in old Irish literature, Book of Eights, Diarmaid, Cuchulainn Geasa 
and taboo page 207 / 



Summing up of the elements of the older portion of the cycle Parallelism with 
Celtic tradition The Christian element in the cycle : the two forms of the 
Early History ; Brons form older Brons and Bran The Bran conversion 
legend The Joseph conversion legend, Joseph in apocryphal literature, 
the Evangelium Nicodemi The Bran legend the starting point of the 
Christian transformation of the legend Substitution of Joseph for Bran 
Objection to this hypothesis Hypothetical sketch of the growth of the 
legend page 215 


The Moral and Spiritual import of the Grail-Legend universally recognised 
Popularity of the Arthurian Eomance Seasons for that Popularity 
Affinities of the Mediaeval Eomances with early Celtic Literature ; Impor- 
tance of the Individual Hero ; Knighthood ; the role of Woman ; the Celtic 
Fairy and the Mediaeval Lady ; the Supernatural M. Eenan's views The 
Quest in English Literature, Malory The earliest form of the Legend, 


Chrestien, his continuators The Queste and its Ideal The Sex-Relations 
in the Middle Ages Criticism of Mr. FurniTall's estimate of the moral 
import of the Queste The Merits of the Queste The Chastity Ideal in the 
later versions Modern English Treatments : Ttfsnysojj, Hawker Possible 
Source of the Chastity Ideal in Popular Tradition The Perceval Quest 
in Wolfram ; his Moral Conception ; the Question ; Parzival and Con- 
duiramur The Parzival Questand Faust Wagner's Parsifal The Christian 
element in the Legend Ethical Ideas in the folk-tale originals of the Grail 
Romances : the Great Fool ; the Sleeping Beauty Conclusion page 228 

APPENDIX A. : The Relationship of Wolfram to Chrestien . . . . page 261 

APPENDIX B. : The Grand St. Graal Prologue and the Brandan 

Legend .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. page 264 

INDEX I. The Dramatis Personse of the Legend . . . . . . page 266 

INDEX II page 275 


THE present work is, as its title states, a collection of " Studies." 
It does not profess to give an exhaustive or orderly account of 
the Grail romance cycle ; it deals with particular aspects of the 
legend, and makes no pretence of exhausting even these. 

It may be urged that as this is the case the basis of the work 
is too broad for the superstructure, and that there was no need to 
give full summaries of the leading forms of the legend, or to dis- 
cuss at such length their relation one to another, when it was only 
intended to follow up one of the many problems which this romance 
cycle presents. Had there existed any work in English which did 
in any measure what the writer has here attempted to do, he would 
only too gladly have given more space and more time to the 
elaboration of the special subject of these studies. But the only 
work of the kind is in German, Bircli-HirscJif eld's Die Gralsage. 
Many interested in the Arthurian romances do not know German ; 
and some who profess an interest in them, and who do know 
German, are not, to judge by their writings, acquainted with Birch - 
Hirschfeld's work. It seemed worth while, therefore, to present 
the facts about the cycle with greater fulness than would have 
been necessary had those facts been generally accessible. The 
writer felt, too, that whatever judgment might be passed upon 
his own speculations, his statements of fact might give his book 
some value in the eyes of students. He also wished to give all who 
felt an interest in the line of investigation he opened up the 
opportunity of pursuing it further, or the means of checking his 
assertions and conjectures. 

The writer has taken his texts as he found them. He has 


studied the subject matter of the romances, not the words in which 
they have been handed down. Those who seek for philological 
disquisitions are, therefore, warned that they will find nothing to 
interest them; and those scholars who are well acquainted with the 
printed texts, but who are on the search for fresh MS. evidence, 
must not look here for such. On the other hand, as the printed 
texts are for the most of such rarity and price as to be practically 
inaccessible to anyone not within reach of a large library, the 
writer trusts that his abstract of them will be welcome to many. 
He has striven to take note of all works of real value bearing 
upon the subject. He endeavoured, though unsuccessfully, to 
obtain a copy of M. Graston Paris' account of the Arthurian 
romances which, though it has been for some months in print, is 
not yet published. 

The writer has done his best to separate the certain from the 
conjectural. Like M. Renan, in a similar case, he begs the reader to 
supply the "perhaps " and the " possibly's " that may sometimes 
have dropt out. The whole subject is fraught with difficulty, and 
there are special reasons why all results must for some time to 
come be looked upon as conjectural. These are glanced at here 
and there in the course of these studies, but it may be well to put 
them together in this place. Firstly, whatever opinions be held 
as to which are the older forms of the legend, it is certain that in 
no one case do we possess a primary form. All the versions that 
have come down to us presuppose, even where they do not actually 
testify to, a model. Two of the forms which there is substantial 
agreement in reckoning among the oldest, the poems of Chrestien 
de Troyes and Robert de Borron, were never finished by the 
authors ; sequels exist to both, of a later date and obviously affected 
by other forms of the legend. A reconstruction of the original 
story is under these circumstances a task of great uncertainty. So 
much for the difficulty inherent in the nature of the evidence, a 
difficulty which it is to be feared will always beset the student of 
this literature, as no new texts are likely to be found. Secondly, 
this evidence, such as it is, is not accessible in a form of which the 
most can be made. The most important member of the group, the 
Conte du Graal, only exists in one text, and that from a late and 


poor MS. It is certain that a critical edition, based upon a survey 
of the entire MS. evidence, will throw great light upon all the 
questions here treated of. The Mabinogi of Peredur has not yet 
been critically edited, nor have the MSS. of the other romances 
yielded up all that can be learnt from them. Thirdly, whatever 
opinion be held respecting the connection of the North French 
romances and Celtic tradition, connection of some kind must be 
admitted. Now the study of Celtic tradition is only beginning to 
be placed upon a firm basis, and the stores of Celtic myth and 
legend are only beginning to be thrown open to the non- Celtic 
scholar. Were there in existence a Celtic parallel to Grimm's 
great work on German Mythology, the views for which the writer 
contends would have been, in all likelihood, admitted ere now, 
and there would have been no necessity for this work at all. 

Whilst some of the reasons which render the study of the Grail 
legends so fascinating, because so problematic, will probably always 
remain in force, others will vanish before the increase of know- 
ledge. When the diplomatic evidence is accessible in a trustworthy 
form ; when the romances have received all the light that can be 
shed upon them from Celtic history, philology, and mythology, the 
future student will have a comparatively easy task. One of the 
writer's chief objects has been to excite an interest in these 
romances among those who are able to examine the Celtic elements 
in them far more efficiently than he could do. Welsh philologists 
can do much to explain the Onomasticon Arthurianum ; Cymric 
history generally may elucidate the subject matter. But as a 
whole Welsh literature is late, meagre, and has kept little that is 
archaic. The study of Irish promises far better results. Of all the 
races of modern Europe the Irish have the most considerable and 
the most archaic mass of pre-Christian traditions. By the side of 
their heroic traditional literature that of Cymry or Teuton (High 
and Low), or Slav is recent, scanty, and unoriginal. 

A few words must be said in defence of the free use made of 
conjecture in the course of these studies. This is well nigh 
unavoidable from the way in which the texts we have to deal with 
have come down to us. What M. Renan has said about the 
Hebrew historical scriptures is excellently exemplified in the Grail 


romances. There was no fixed text, no definite or rounded 
sequence of incidents, of which scribes respected the integrity. 
On the contrary, each successive transcriber was only anxious 
to add some fresh adventure to the interminable tale, and those 
MSS. were most thought of which contained the greatest number 
of lines. The earlier MSS. have, therefore, almost entirely dis- 
appeared, and we are dealing with works which we know to have 
been composed in the twelfth century, but of which we have only 
thirteenth or fourteenth century transcripts. Inconsistencies in 
the conduct of the story are the inevitable consequence in most 
cases, but sometimes the latest arranger had an eye for unity 
of effect, and attained this by the simple process of altering the 
old account so as to make it fit with the new. In dealing with the 
text of an individual author, whether ancient or modern, it would 
be in the last degree uncritical to explain difficulties by such 
hypotheses as the loss of an earlier draft, or the foisting into the 
work of later and incongruous incidents and conceptions. Not so in 
the case of the romances ; this method of explanation is natural 
and legitimate, but none the less is it largely conjectural. 

The writer may be blamed for not having presented his subject 
in a more engaging and more lucid form. He would plead in 
excuse the circumstances under which his work has been carried 
on. When the only hours of study are those which remain after 
the claims, neither few nor light, of business and other duties 
have been met, it is hard to give an appearance of unity to a 
number of minute detail studies, and to weld them together into 
one harmonious whole. The fact that the work has been written, 
and printed, at considerable intervals of time may, it is hoped, be 
accepted as some excuse for inconsistency in the terminology. 

The writer has many acknowledgments to make. First and 
chief to Dr. Birch-Hirschfeld, but for whose labours, covering well 
nigh the whole field of the Grail cycle, he would not have been 
able to take in hand his work at all ; then to Dr. Furnivall, to 
whose enthusiasm and spirit the publication of some of the most 
important texts are due. In these two cases the writer acknow- 
ledges his gratitude with the more readiness that he has felt 
compelled to come to an opposite conclusion from that arrived at 


by Dr. Birch-Hirschfeld respecting the genesis and growth of the 
legend, and because he has had to differ from Dr. Furnivall's 
estimate of the moral value of the Galahad romances. To M. 
Hucher, to Mons. Ch. Potvin, the editor, single-handed, of the 
Conte du Graal, to M. d'Arbois de Jubainville, to Professor Ernst 
Martin, to the veteran San-Marte, to Herr Otto Kiipp, and to Herr 
Paul Steinbach, these studies owe much. Professor Rhys' Hibbert 
Lectures came into the writer's hands as he was preparing the 
latter portion of the book for the press ; they were of great service 
to him, and he was especially gratified to find opinions at which he 
had arrived confirmed on altogether independent grounds by 
Professor Rhys' high authority. The writer is also indebted to 
him, to Mr. H. L. D. Ward, of the British Museum, and to his 
friend Mr. Egerton Phillimore for help given while the sheets 
were passing through the press. Lastly, the writer desires to 
pay an especial tribute of gratitude and respect to that admirable 
scholar, J. F. Campbell. Of all the masters in folk-lore, Jacob 
Grimm not excepted, none had a keener eye or surer, more in- 
stinctively right judgment. 

Although the writer admits, nay, insists upon the conjectural 
character of his results, he believes he is on the right track, and 
that if the Grail romances be worked out from any other point of 
view than the one here taken, the same goal will be reached. It 
should be said that some of the conclusions, which he can claim as 
his own by right of first mention, were stated by him in a paper he 
read before the Folk-Lore Society in 1880 (afterwards reprinted, 
Celtic Magazine, 1887, August^October) ; and in a paper he read 
before the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion, in 1884. 

These studies have been a delight and a solace to the writer ; 
had it been otherwise, he would still feel himself amply repaid for 
his work by the thought that he had made a contribution, how- 
ever slight, to the criticism of the Legend of the Holy Grail. 


[The reader is kindly begged to mark in these corrections before using the book.] 

Page 22, line 12, for Corbierc read Corbiere. 
25, line 37, insert Passion lefore Week. 
30, 7 lines from bottom, for Avallon read Avalon. 
,, 85, line 24, for Percival read Perceval. 
86, line 12, for Percival read Perceval. 
,, 90, 5 lines from bottom, for Pelleur read Pelicans. 

,, 102, line 22 for seems read seem. 

120, line 3, for 1180 read 1189. 

,, 124, line 29, for Bron read Brons. 

,, 156, line 11, insert comma after specially. 

,, 159, line 11, for Henessey read Hennessy. 

163, note, i.e., for Graal read Gaal. 

,, 183, line 23, insert comma after more. 

,, 188, line 5, for euphemerised read euhemerised. 

,, 188, line 5, for invasion read invasions. 

,, 188, line 17, for mystic read mythic. 

189, line 1,for LXXVII read LXXXIL 

197, note, for Carl the Great read Karl the Great. 

200, line 12, insert comma after plight ; dele comma after love 

201, 1 line from bottom, insert late before mediaeval. 

204, note, for Percival read Perceval. 

217, line 23, for mystic read mythic. 



Description of the leading forms of the Romance : Conte del Graal 
Joseph d'Arimathie Didot-Perceval Queste del Saint Graal Grand 
Saint Graal Parzival Perceval le Gallois Mabinogi of Peredur 
Sir Perceval DiuCrdne Information respecting date and authorship 
of these works in the MSS. 

THE following are the forms in which the Legend of the Holy 
Grail has come down to us : 

A. Le Conte del Graal, a poem of over 60,000 verses, the 
major part of which (45,379 verses) was printed for the first time by 
Potvin : Le Conte del Graal, six volumes, 8vo. (vols. ii.-vi. contain- 
ing our poem), Mons, 1866-71, from a MS. preserved in the Mons 
Library.* The portion of the poem which is not printed in full is 
summarised by Potvin in the sixth volume of his edition. The 
poem, so far as at present known, is the work of four men : 

A I. Chrestien de Troyes, who carried the work down to 

verse 10,601. 

A II. Gautier de Doulens, who continued it to verse 34,934. 
A III. Manessier, who finished it in 45,379 verses. 
A TV. Gerbert, to whom are due over 15,000 verses, mostly 
found interpolated between Gautier de Doulens and 

* Fully described by Potvin, VI, Ixix, etc. 


A MS. preserved in the Library of Montpellier* differs in 
important respects from the Mons one as far as Gautier de Doulens 
and Manessier are concerned. It intercalates 228 verses between 
verses 20,294 and 20,296 of the Mons MS., and gives a different 
redaction of verses 34,996-35,128 in agreement with the aforesaid 
intercalation. It likewise mentions two visits of Gawain to the 
Grail Castle. The intercalation in Gautier may be called A II#, 
and the variant in Manessier A Ilia. 

B. Joseph d'Arixnathie, Merlin, exists in two forms : 
(1) a fragmentary metrical version entitled in the sole existing 
MS. (Bibliotheque Rationale, No. 20,047. Fonds St. Germain, 
No. 1,987) Li R(o)manz de Test (o)ire dou Graal, and consisting 
of 4,018 verses, 3,514 for the Joseph, the remainder, for about 
one- fifth of the Merlin. First printed by Francisque Michel: Le 
Roman du St. Graal. Bordeaux, 1841. Secondly by Furnivall : 
Seynt Graal or the Sank Ryal. Printed for the Roxburghe Club, 
two volumes, 4to., London, 1861-63, where it is found in an appendix 
at the end of vol i. (2) A prose version of which several MSS. 
exist, all of which are fully described by E. Hucher : Le Saint- 
Graal, ou le Joseph d'Arimathie, three volumes, 12mo., Le Mans, 
1875-78, vol. i., pp. 1-28. The chief are : the Cange MS. (circa 
1250) of which Hucher prints the Joseph, vol. i.,pp. 209-276, and 
the Didot MS., written in 1301, of which Hucher prints the Joseph, 
vol. i., pp. 277-333. Hucher likewise gives, vol. i., pp. 335-365, 
variants from the Huth MS. (circa 1280). 

These different versions may be numbered as follows : 

B I. The metrical version, which I shall always quote as 

Metr. Jos., from Furnivall's edition. 
B II. The prose versions: B Ha, Cange Jos.; B 116, Didot 

Jos.; B He, Huth Jos., all quoted from Hucher, 

vol. i. 

C.- -Perceval, prose romance found in the already- mentioned 
Didot MS. at the end of the Merlin, printed by Hucher, vol. i., pp. 
415-^05, from which it will be quoted as Didot- Perceval. 

D. Queste del Saint Graal, prose romance commonly found 
in the MSS. in combination with Lancelot and the Mort Artur. 

* Potvin, VI, Ixxv, etc. 


Edited by Furnivall : La Queste del St. Graal. Printed for the 
Roxburghe Club, 4to., London, 1864. The introduction contains 
a full account of the existing MSS. A different redaction from 
that of any of the known French MSS. is preserved in a Welsh 
translation, printed, with a modern English version by the editor, 
from a fifteenth century Hengwrt MS., by the Rev. Robert 
Williams : Y Seint Graal, London, 8vo., 1876. I shall quote 
D I. Queste, from Furnivall's edition. 
D II. Welsh Quest, from Williams' edition. 

E. The so-called Grand Saint Graal, prose romance found 
in the MSS., both preceding the Merlin and the Queste, and preced- 
ing the Queste and the Mort Artur. Printed by Furnivall from 
Cambridge and Brit. Mus. MSS., together with a metrical English 
adaptation by Henry Lonelich, of about the time of Henry the 
Vlth, in the already-mentioned Seynt Graal; and by Hucher, 
vols. ii. and iii., from a Le Mans MS. ; will be quoted as Grand St. 
Graal, from Furnivall's edition. 

F. Parzival, by Wolfram von Eschenbach, German metrical 
romance, critically edited from the MSS. by Karl Lachmann, 
Wolfram von Eschenbach, Yierte Ausgabe, 8vo., Berlin, 1879, from 
which it will be quoted as Wolfram. 

G. Perceval le Gallois, prose romance, first printed by 
Potvin, vol. i. of his Conte del Graal, from a Mons MS., with 
variants from a fragmentary Berne MS. (as to both of which see 
pp. 353, etc.). A Welsh translation, with modern English version 
by the editor, made from a MS. closely allied to the Berne frag- 
ments, and representing a superior text to that printed by Potvin, 
in Williams' already-mentioned T Seint Graal. 

Besides these works there exist two versions of the Perceval 
legend in which the Holy Grail, as such, does not appear. These 
are : 

H. The Mabinogi of Peredur, the son of Evrawc, Welsh 
prose romance found in the Red Book of Hergest, a MS. of the 
end of the fourteenth century, and in MSS. a hundred years 
older. I shall quote it as Peredur, from Lady Guest's English 
translation of the Mabinogion, 8vo., London, 1877. 



I. Sir Perceval of Galles, English metrical romance, 
printed for the first time from the Thornton MS., of circa 1440, 
by Halliwell : The Thornton Romances, printed for the Camden 
Society, small 4to., London, 1884; from which I shall quote it 
as Sir Perceval. 

Finally there exists an independent German version of certain 
adventures, the hero of which in the Conte du Graal, in Wolfram, 
and in the Mabinogi, is Gawain. This is 

K. Heinrich von dem Tiirlin. Din Crone. Edited by 
G. H. F. Scholl. Bibliothek des Litterarischen Vereins, vol. 
xxvii., Stuttgart, 1852. 

The positive information which the different MSS. of the above 
mentioned works afford respecting their authors, date of composi- 
tion, sources, etc., is as follows : In the prologue to his poem, 
Chrestien (Potvin i., pp. 307-308) dedicates his work to " Li quens 
Felippes de Flandres," who as he states (verse 67), " li bailla le 
livre," which served him as model, and whom he praises at great 
length as surpassing Alexander. We know that Count Philip of 
Flanders took the cross in 1188, set out for the Holy Land in 
1190, and died on the 1st of June, 1191, before Akkon.* As 
Chrestien says not a word about the crusading intentions of Philip, 
it may be inferred that he wrote his prologue before 1188, and 
began the poem in 1189 at the latest. Gautier de Doulens 
(probably of that ilk, in Picardy, some miles from Amiens) f has 
only left his name, verse 33,755, Gautiers de Dons qui 1'estore, 
etc. Manessier the next continuator has been more explicit ; he 
describes himself as completing the work at the command of ... 

Jehanne la Comtesse 

Qu'est de Flandre dame et mestresse. 

(Potvin, vi., p. 157.) 

This Joan, daughter of Baldwin the Vlth, ruled Flanders alone 
during the imprisonment of her husband after the battle of 
Bou vines (1214-1227), and Manessier's words can only apply to 
her during this period, so that his continuation must have been 

* Birch-Hirschfeld : Die Sage vom Oral, 8vo., Leipzig, 1877, p. 81. 
f Bivch-HirscMeld, p. 89. 


written between 1214-1227.* The third continuator, Gerbers, 
only mentions his name (Potvin, vi., p. 212). 

The author of version B, names himself, B I, verse 3,461, 
Messires Roberz de Beron ; verses 3,488-94 state that no mortal 
man had told the story, until he had it from 

Mon seigneur Gautier en peis 
Qui de Mont Belyal estoit. 

Verse 3,155 gives the name somewhat differently, Meistres Robers 
dist de Bouron. The prose versions follow the poem with additions, 
thus Cange Jos. (p. 275) ; Messires Roberz de Borron lou restrait 
a mon seigneur Gautier, lou preu conte de Mobeliart. 

Walter of Montbeliard, brother to Count Richard of Montbeliard, 
went to the Holy Land in 1199, became Constable of Jerusalem, 
Regent of Cyprus, and died in 1212. The date of his birth is 
uncertain, but as his elder brother died in 1237, Walter could 
hardly have been born before 1150. His father, Amadeus, died in 
1183, in which year he received the countship of Montfaucon. It 
may only have been after he thus became independent that Robert 
entered his service. In any case Robert could not have spoken of 
him as "mon seigneur," before 1170. That year may, therefore, 
be taken as a terminus a quo, and the year 1212 as a terminus ad 
quern for dating these versions. 

The Grand St. Graal is likewise ascribed in the MSS. to Robert 
de Borron, and it is further stated that he translated from Latin 
into French Et en si le temoigne me sires robiers de borron qui a 
translatee de latin en franchois cheste estoire (ii. p. 78). 

The Queste ascribed in the MSS. to Walter Mapes, is said to 
have been compiled by him for the love of his lord, King Henry 
maistre Gautiers Map les extrait pour 1'amor del roy Henri son 
seignor, qui fist Festore translator du latin en francoisf Walter 
Mapes, born before 1143 (he presided at the assizes of Gloucester 
in 1173), died in 1210. If we may believe the MSS., the Queste 

* Birch-Hirschfeld, p, 110, 

f Birch-Hirschfeld, p. 232, quoting the colophon of a Paris MS., after 
Paulin Paris, Cat. des MSS. frai^ais, vol. ii, pp. 3d, etc. 


would probably fall within the last twenty-five years of the twelfth 

The author of Perceval le Gallois describes himself (Potvin, i., 
348) as writing the book for the " Seignor de Neele," whose 
Christian name, " Johan," is given four lines lower down, at the 
command of the " Seingnor de Cambresis," i.e., the Bishop of 
Cambray. This John of Nesle is probably the one who in the year 
1225 sold the lordship of Bruges to Countess Joan of Flanders.* 

Wolfram von Eschenbach, of that ilk, in North Bavaria, born 
in the last thirty years of the twelfth century, died about 1220. 
He knew Chrestien's poem well, and repeatedly refers to it, but 
with great contempt, as being the wrong version of the story, 
whereas he holds the true version from Kyot, the singer, a 
" Provenzal," who found the tale of Parzival written in heathen 
tongue at Dolet (Toledo), by Flegetanis, a heathen who first taught 
concerning the Grail, put it into French, and after searching the 
chronicles of Britain, France, and Ireland in vain, at length found 
information in the chronicles of Anjou (pp. 202 and 219). 

Nothing is stated in the works themselves respecting the 
authors of the Mabinogi and the Thornton Sir Perceval. 

Heinrich von dem Turlin frequently quotes Chrestien as his 
authority, e.g., verses 16,941, 23,046, 23,982. 

If these various statements are to be accepted, it follows that 
in the course of fifty years (1170-1220) a great body of romance 
came into existence, partly in France, Chrestien, his continuators, 
and Robert de Borron; partly in England, Walter Mapes ; and 
partly in Germany, Wolfram von Eschenbach, and Heinrich von 
dem Turlin. Of this body of romance only a portion has come 
down to us, the work of Kyot and the Latin originals of the Queste 
and the Grand St. Graal having disappeared. Furthermore, it is 
only possible to date with any accuracy three or four of the works, 
viz., Chrestien, Manessier, Wolfram (whose poem falls certainly 
within the first ten years of the thirteenth century) , though it may 
also be taken as certain that It. de Borron wrote after 1170, and 
the anonymous author of Perceval le Gallois before 1225. Of the 

* Birch-Hirschfeld, p. 143. 


dated works Chrestien's is the oldest, 1188-90, and it postulates 
the existence of previous versions. 

The object of the present investigation being to determine, as 
far as possible, the age aud relationship to one another of the 
different versions which have come down to us, to exhibit the 
oldest form of the story as we have it, and to connect it with 
Celtic traditional belief and literature, it will be well, before 
proceeding to further discuss the various points left doubtful by 
the evidence gathered from the MSS., to give clear and detailed 
summaries of the most important versions. 


ummaries Conte du Graal : Pseudo-Chrestien, Chrestien, Gautier de 
Doulens, Manessier, Gerbert Wolfram Heinrich von dem TUrliu 
Didot-Perceval Mabinogi of Peredur Thornton MS. Sir Perceval 
Queste del Saint Graal Grand Saint Graal Robert de Borron's 
poem, Joseph of Arimathea. 

The Conte du Graal. PSEUDO-CHRESTIEN.* The story tells of 
the " Graal," whose mysteries, if Master Blihis lie not, none may reveal ; 
it falls into seven parts, and shows how the rich land of Logres was de- 
stroyed. (1) In the wells and springs of that land harboured damsels who 
fed the wayfarer with meat and pasties and bread. But King Amangons 
did wrong to one and carried off her golden cup, so that never more came 
damsels out of the springs to comfort the wanderer. And the men of 
King Amangons followed his evil example. Thereafter the springs dried 
up, and the grass withered, and the land became waste, and no more might 
be found the court of the Rich Fisher, which had filled the land with 
plenty and splendour. (2) The Knights of the Table Round, learning the 
ill done to the damsels, set forth to protect them ; they found them not, 
but fair damsels wandering in the woods, each with her knight ; with the 
latter they strove, and when they overcame them sent them to Arthur. 
Thus came Blihos Bliheris to Arthur's court conquered by Gauvain ; he 
knew goodly tales and he told how the wandering damsels were sprung 
from those ravished by King Amangons. So long would they wander till 
God gave them to find the court, whence joy and splendour would come to 
the land. (3) Arthur's knights resolved to seek the court of the Rich Fisher 
much knew he of black art, more than an hundred times changed he his 
semblance, that no man seeing him again recognised him. Gauvain found 
it, and had great joy therefrom ; but before him a young knight, small of 
age, but none bolder of courage Percevaus li Galois was he he asked 
whereto the Grail served, but nought of the lance why it dripped blood, 
nor of the sword one half of which was away whilst the other lay in the 
bier. But he asked surely concerning the rich cross of silver. Now in the 

* This prologue is certainly not Chrestien's work ; but there is no reason to 
doubt that it embodies a genuine tradition, and affords valuable hints for a 
reconstruction of the original form of the story. Cf. Otto Kiipp in Zeitschrift 
fur deutsche Philologie, vo.l xvii., No. 1. 


room three times there arose such great sorrow that no man who heard it, 
so bold he might be but feared. Afterwards the room filled and the king 
came in, full richly dressed, so that he might hardly be known of them 
that had seen him the day before, fishing. And when all were sat down 
the Grail came in, and without serjeant nor seneschal served all present, 
and 'twas wonder what food it gave them. And then came the great 
marvel which has not its like. But Perceval will tell of this, so I must say 
no more ; it is a great shame to tell beforehand what is in a good tale. 
When the good knight shall come who found the court three times you 
shall hear me tell of Grail and lance, and of him who lay in the bier, of 
the sword, of the grief and swooning of all beholders. (4) Now the court 
was found seven times, and each time shall have a fresh tale : 

The seventh (the most pleasing) tells of the lance wherewith Longis 

pierced the side of the King of holy Majesty ; 
The sixth of warlike feats ; 
The fifth of the anger and loss of Huden ; 
The fourth of heaven, for he was no coward, the knight Mors del 

Calan, who first came to Glamorgan ; 
The third of the hawk whereof Castrars had such fear Pecorins, the 

son of Amangons, bore all his days the wound on his forehead ; 
The second has not yet been told ; it tells of the great sorrows 

Lancelot of the Lake had there where he lost his virtue ; 
And the last is the adventure of the shield, never a better one was 


(5) After this adventure the land was repeopled ; court and grail 
were found ; the streams ran again ; the meadows were green, the forests 
thick and leafy ; so that all folk marvelled. But there came back a folk, 
the same that came out of the springs (save they were not cooks), a caitiff 
set, and built for their damsels the rich Maidens' Castel, and the Bridge 
Perillous, and Castel Orguellous, and warred against the Table Round. 
In the castle were 376, each sire of 20 knights. And not till after four 
years did Arthur overcome them and was there peace. 

(Here beginneth the Story of the Grail. ) 

(6) There were in the land of Wales twelve knights, of whom Bliocadrans 
alone survived, so eager were they in seeking tournament and combats. 
After living for two years with his wife, childless, Bliocadrans set forth to a 
tournament given by the King of Wales and Cornwall against them of the 
Waste Fountain. At first successful, he is at length slain. A few days 
after his departure his wife has borne a son. When at length she learns 
her husband's death, she takes counsel with her chamberlain, and pretend- 
ing a pilgrimage to St. Brandan, in Scotland, withdraws to the Waste 
Forest far removed from all men. Here she brings up her son, and though 
she allows him to hunt in the forest, warns him against men covered with 
iron they are devils. He promises to follow her counsel, and thenceforth 
he goes into the forest alone. 


The Conte du Graal. (a) CHRESTIEN. (1) When as trees and 
meadows deck themselves with green, and birds sing, the son of the 
widow lady goes out into the wood. He meets five knights, and, as 
their weapons shine in the sun, takes them for angels, after having first 
thought them to be the devils his mother had warned him against. 
He prays to them as his mother has taught him. One of the knights 
asks if he has seen five knights and three maidens who had passed that 
way, but he can but reply with questions concerning the arms and trap- 
pings of the knights. He learns of Arthur the King who makes knights, 
and when he returns to his mother tells her he has beheld a more beautiful 
thing than God and His angels, knights namely, and he too will become one. 
In vain his mother tells him of his father's and his two elder brothers' 
fates, slain in battle. Nothing will serve, so the mother makes him a dress 
of coarse linen and leather, and before he leaves counsels him as follows : 
If dame or damsel seek his aid he is to give it, he is to do naught displeas- 
ing to them, but to kiss the maiden who is willing, and to take ring and 
girdle of her if he can ; to go for long with no fellow-traveller whose nam e 
he knows not, to speak with and consort with worthy men, to pray to our 
Lord when he comes to church or convent. She then tells him of Jesus 
Christ, the Holy Prophet. He departs clad and armed in Welsh fashion, 
and his mother swoons as though dead. (2) Perceval comes to a tent in 
the wood, and, taking it for a convent, goes in and finds sleeping on a bed 
a damsel, whom the neighing of his horse wakes. In pursuance of his 
mother's counsel he kisses her more than twenty times, takes her ring from 
her, and eats and drinks of her provisions. Thereafter he rides forth, and 
her lover returning and hearing what has taken place, swears to avenge 
himself upon the intruder, and until such time the damsel, whose tale he 
disbelieves, is to follow him barefoot and not to change her raiment. (3) 
Perceval learns the way to Carduel from a charcoal-burner ; arrived there, 
he sees a knight coming forth from the castle and bearing a golden cup in 
his hand, clad in red armour, who complains of Arthur as having robbed 
him of his land. Perceval rides into the castle hall and finds the court at 
meat. Arthur, lost in thought, pays no attention to the first two saluta- 
tions of Perceval, who then turns his horse to depart, and in so doing 
knocks off the King's hat. Arthur then tells him how the Ked Knight has 
carried otf his cup, spilling its contents over the Queen. Perceval cares not 
a rap for all this, but asks to be made knight, whereat all laugh. Perceval 
insists, and claims the Red Knight's armour. Kex bids him fetch them, 
whereat the King is displeased. Perceval greets a damsel, who laughs and 
foretells he shall be the best knight in the world. For this saying Kex 
strikes her, and kicks into the fire a fool who had been wont to repeat that 
the damsel would not laugh till she beheld the best of knights. (4) Per- 
ceval tarries no longer, but follows the Red Knight, and bids him give up 
his arms and armour. They fight, and Perceval slays his adversary with a 
cast of his dart. Yones, who has followed him, finds him put to it to remove 
the knight's armour he will burn him out of it if need be and shows him 


how to disarm the dead man and to arm himself. Perceval then mounts 
the knight's steed and rides off, leaving the cup to Yones to be given to the 
King, with this message : he, Perceval, would come back to avenge the 
damsel of the blow Kex struck her. (5) Perceval comes to a castle, in front 
of which he finds an old knight, to whom he relates what has befallen him, 
and of whom he asks counsel as his mother bade him. The knight, 
Gonemans of Gelbort, takes him into his castle, teaches him the use of 
arms, and all knightly practices. In especial he is to avoid over-readiness 
in speaking and in asking questions, and to give over his habit of always 
quoting his mother's counsels. He then dubs him knight, and sends him 
forth to return to his mother. (6) After a day's journey Perceval comes 
to a town defended by a castle, and, being allowed entrance therein, finds 
all waste and deserted, even the very convents. The lady of the castle, a 
damsel of surpassing beauty, welcomes him and bids him to table. Mind- 
ful of Gonemans' counsels he remains silent, and she must speak to him 
first. She turns out to be Gonemans' niece. At night the young stranger 
is shown to his chamber, but the damsel cannot sleep for thought. "Weeping 
she comes to Perceval's bedside, and in reply to his wondering questions 
tells him how the forces of King Clamadex encompass the castle, and how 
that on the morrow she must yield, but rather than be Clamadex's she will 
slay herself. He promises to help her, and bids her to him in the bed, 
which she does, and they pass the night in each other's arms, mouth to 
mouth. On the morrow he begs for her love in return for his promised aid, 
which she half refuses, the more to urge him on. He fights with and over- 
comes Aguigrenons, Clamadex's marshal, and sends him to Arthur's court. 
Clamadex hearing of this tries afresh to starve out the castle, but a storm 
luckily throws a passing ship ashore, and thereby reprovisions the besieged 
ones. Clamadex then challenges Perceval, is overcome, and sent to Arthur's 
court, where he arrives shortly after his marshal. They relate wonders 
concerning the Bed Knight, and the King is more than ever displeased with 
Kex for having offended such a valiant warrior. After remaining for a 
while with Blanchefleur, Perceval takes leave of her, as he longs to see his 
mother again. (7) He comes to a river, upon which is a boat, and therein 
two men fishing. One of them, in reply to his questions, directs him for a 
night's shelter to his own castle hard by. Perceval starts for it, and at first 
unable to find it reproaches the fisher. Suddenly he perceives the castle 
before him, enters therein, is disarmed, clad in a scarlet mantle, and led into 
a great hall. Therein is a couch upon which lies an old man ; near him is a fire, 
around which some four hundred men are sitting. Perceval tells his host he 
had come from Biau-Bepaire. A squire enters, bearing a sword, and on it 
is written that it will never break save in one peril, and that known only to 
the maker of it. 'Tis a present from the host's niece to be bestowed where 
it will be well employed. The host gives it to Perceval, " to whom it was 
adjudged and destined." Hereupon enters another squire, bearing in his 
hand a lance, from the head of which a drop of blood runs down on the 
squire's hand. Perceval would have asked concerning this wonder, but he 


minds him of Gonemans' counsel not to speak or inquire too much. Two 
more squires enter, holding each a ten-branched candlestick, and with them 
a damsel, a " graal " in her hands. The graal shines so that it puts out the 
light of the candles as the sun does that of the stars. Thereafter follows 
a damsel holding a (silver) plate. All defile past between the fire and the 
couch, but Perceval does not venture to ask wherefore the graal is used. 
Sapper follows, and the graal is again brought, and Perceval, knowing not 
its use, had fain asked, but always refrains when he thinks of Gonemans, 
and finally puts off his questions till the morrow. After supper the guest 
is led to his chamber, and on the morrow, awakening, finds the castle 
deserted. No one answers his calls. Issuing forth he finds his horse 
saddled and the drawbridge down. Thinking to find the castle dwellers 
in the forest he rides forth, but the drawbridge closes so suddenly behind 
him that had not the horse leapt quickly forward it had gone hard with steed 
and rider. In vain Perceval calls : none answer. (8) He pricks on and 
comes to an oak, beneath which sits a maid holding a dead knight in her 
arms and lamenting over him. She asks him where he has passed the 
night, and on learning it tells him the fisher who had directed him to the 
castle and his host were one and the same ; wounded by a spear thrust 
through both thighs his only solace is in fishing, whence he is called the 
Fisher King. She asks, had Perceval seen the bleeding lance, the graal, and 
the silver dish ? had he asked their meaning ? No ; .then what is his name ? 
He does not know it, but she guesses it : Perceval le Gallois ; but it should 
be Perceval the Caitiff, for had he asked concerning what he saw, the good 
king would have been made whole again, and great good have sprung 
therefrom. He has also a heavy sin on his conscience in that his mother 
died of grief when he left her. She herself is his cousin. Perceval asks 
concerning the dead knight, and learning it is her lover offers to revenge 
her upon his slayer. In return she tells him about the sword, how it will 
fly in pieces if he have not care of it, and how it may be made whole 
again by dipping it in a lake, near which dwells its maker, the smith 
Trebucet. (9) Perceval leaves his cousin and meets, riding on a wretched 
horse, a scantily and shabbily clad woman of miserable appearance, 
lamenting her hard fate and unjust treatment. She is the lady of the 
tent whose ring Perceval had carried off. She bids him fly her husband, 
the Orgellous de la Lande. The latter appears, challenges Perceval, but is 
overcome by him, convinced of his wife's innocence, compelled to take her 
into favour again, and both must go to Arthur's court, relate the whole 
story, and renew Perceval's promise to the damsel whom Kex had struck, 
to avenge her. Arthur, when he hears of the deeds of the young hero, 
sets forth with his whole court to seek him. (10) Snow has fallen, and 
a flock of wild geese, blinded by the snow, has had one of its number 
wounded by a falcon. Three blood drops have fallen on the snow, and 
Perceval beholding them falls into deep thought on the red and white in 
his love's face. Arthur and his knights come up with him. Saigremors 
sees him first, bids him come, and, when he answers no word, tilts against 


him, but is overthrown. Kex then trys his luck, but is unhorsed so rudely 
that arm and leg are broken. Gauvaiu declares that love must be master- 
ing the strange knight's thoughts, approaches him courteously, tells his own 
name and learns Perceval's, and brings the latter to Arthur, by whom he 
is received with all honour. Perceval then learns it is Kex he has over- 
thrown, thus fulfilling his promise to the damsel whom Kex had smitten, 
and whose knight he offers himself to be. (11) Perceval returns on the 
morrow with the court to Carlion, and the next day at noon there comes 
riding on a yellow mule a damsel more hideous than could be pictured 
outside hell. She curses Perceval for having omitted to ask concerning 
the lance and graal ; had he done so the King would have been healed of his 
wound and ruled his land in peace ; now maidens will be put to shame, 
orphans and widows made, and many knights slain. Turning to the King 
she tells of the adventures to be achieved at the Castel Orgellous, where 
dwell five hundred and seventy knights, each with his lady love. He, 
though, who would win the highest renown must to Montesclaire to free 
the damsel held captive there. She then departs. Gauvain will forth to 
the imprisoned damsel, Gifles to the Castel Orgellous, and Perceval swears 
to rest no two nights in the same place till he have learnt concerning graal 
and lance. (12) A knight, Guigambresil, enters and accuses Gauvain of 
having slain his lord. The latter sets forth at once to the King of Cavalon 
to clear himself of this accusation. (13) On his way he meets the host of 
Melians, who is preparing to take part in a tournament to approve himself 
worthy the love of the daughter of Tiebaut of Tingaguel, who had hitherto 
refused his suit. Gauvain rides on to Tingaguel to help its lord. On 
arriving at the castle the eldest daughter jeers at him, whilst the youngest 
takes his part, declaring him a better knight than Melians, whereat her 
sister is very indignant. On the first day of the tournament Melians shows 
himself the best knight, but the younger sister still declares her faith in 
Gauvain, and has her ears boxed in consequence. She appeals to Gauvain 
to be her knight and avenge the injury done her. He consents, overcomes 
Melians, whose horse he sends to his little lady, and all other knights ; then, 
after telling his name, rides forth. (14) He meets two knights, the younger 
of whom offers him hospitality, and sends him to his sister, bidding her 
welcome him. She receives him kindly, and when, struck with her beauty, 
he asks her favours, grants them at once. They are interrupted by a steward, 
who reproaches her with giving her love to her father's murderer, and calls 
upon the castle folk to attack Gauvain. The latter defends himself until 
the return of Guigambresil, who reproaches the lord of the castle for letting 
Gauvain be attacked, as he had expressed his readiness to do single combat. 
Gauvain is then allowed to go, and is excused the combat if within a year 
he can bring back the bleeding lance. He sets off in search of it. (1 5) 
The tale returns to Perceval, who has wandered about for five years without 
thinking of God, yet performing many feats. He meets three knights 
accompanied by ladies, all clad in penitents' dress. 'Twas a Good Friday, 
and the eldest knight rebukes Perceval for riding fully armed on such a 


day. He must confess him to a holy hermit who lives hard by. Perceval 
goes thither, accuses himself of having forgotten God through his great 
grief at not learning the use of the graal. The hermit reveals himself as 
his uncle, tells Perceval that he is in sin as having caused his mother's 
death, and for that reason he could not ask concerning lance and graal ; but 
for her prayers he had not lived till now. Perceval remains two days 
with his uncle, receives absolution, and rides forth. (16) The story turns 
to Gauvain, who, after Escalavon, finds beneath an oak a damsel lamenting 
over a wounded knight ; the latter advises Gauvain to push on, which he 
does, and comes upon a damsel who receives him discourteously, and when 
at her bidding he has fetched her horse from a garden hard by, mocks at him 
and rides off. He follows, and culls on the way herbs with which he heals 
the wounded knight. A squire rides up very hideous of aspect, mounted 
on a wretched hack. Gauvain chastises him for discourteous answers ; 
meanwhile the wounded knight makes off with Gauvain's steed, making 
himself known as Griogoras, whom Gauvain had once punished for ill-doing. 
Gauvain has to follow the damsel upon the squire's hack, comes to a river, 
on the other side of which is a castle, overcomes a knight who attacks him, 
during which the damsel vanishes, is ferried across the stream, giving the 
vanquished knight to the ferryman as toll ; (17) comes on the morrow to 
the Magic Castle, wherein damsels are held fast, awaiting a knight full of 
all knightly virtues to restore their lands to the ladies, marry the damsels, 
and put an end to the enchantments of the palace. Upon entering, Gauvain 
sees a magnificent bed, seats himself therein, is assailed by magic art, over- 
comes a lion, and is then acclaimed lord of the castle. He would then 
leave the castle, but the ferryman says he may not, whereat Gauvain is 
moved to anger. On the morrow, looking forth, Gauvain beholds the (18) 
damsel who led him to the ford, accompanied by a knight. He hastens 
forth, overcomes the knight, seeks again the damsel's love, but is sent by 
her to the Ford Perillous. Here he meets Guiromelant, who loves Gauvain's 
sister, Clarissant, a dweller in the Magic Castle. A combat is arranged 
to take place after seven days. Upon his return to the damsel, named 
Orgellouse de Logres, he is now well received by her. She hates Guiro- 
melant for having slain her lover, and has long sought a good knight to 
avenge her. Guiromelant on his side hates Gauvain for having, as he says, 
treacherously killed his father. Gauvain and Orgellouse return to the 
Magic Castle. One of the queens who dwells there is mother to Arthur ; 
the second one, his daughter, mother to Gauvain. The latter gives his 
sister Clarissant a ring Guiromelant had begged him, unknowing who he 
was, to bring to her. He then sends a knight to Arthur to bid him and 
his whole train come witness the fight 'twixt him and Guiromelant. The 
messenger finds Arthur plunged in grief at Gauvain's absence. . . . 

Here Chrestien's share breaks off abruptly in the middle of a sentence, 
and the poem is taken up by 


(b) GAUTIER DE DOULENS.* (1) Arthur and his court accept Gauvain'H 
invitation and make for the Castle of Wonders, the Queen whereof li;is 
meantime made herself known to Gauvain as Ygene, Arthur's mother. 
The duel between Gauvain and Guiromelant is hindered, and the latter 
weds Gauvain's sister. (Montp. MS. here inserts a first visit of Gawain 
to Grail Castle, which is substantially the same as the one it repeats after- 
wards in the same place as the Mons MS.) Adventures of Arthur and 
Gauvain against JBrun de Branlant follow, of Gauvain with a maiden in a 
tent and her brother Brandalis, of Carduel of Nantes, whose wife is beloved 
of the magician Garahiet, and of their son Carados, and the magic horn 
(verses 11,000-15,800). (2) (A fresh series of adventures begins) Arthur 
sets forth to seek Gitiet, son of Dos ; Gauvain meets again with Brandalis, 
whose sister has meanwhile borne him a son ; Castel Orgellous, where 
Giflet is imprisoned, is captured ; Gauvain's son by Brandalis' sister 
is lost. (3) An unknown knight comes to Arthur's court ; Keie, who 
demands his name, is unhorsed ; Gauvain brings the unknown to the 
court, but the latter is slain by a javelin cast by invisible hands. 
Gauvain equips himself in the unknown's armour and starts forth to learn 
the latter's name. After praying in a chapel, in which he beholds a light 
on the altar quenched by a black hand, he rides through Brittany and 
Normandy, and comes to a castle where, owing to his armour, he is at first 
hailed as lord. In one of the rooms stands a bier, whereon lies a knight, 
cross and broken sword upon his body, his left hand bleeding. A crowned 
knight enters and goes to battle with Gauvain ; canons and clerks come 
and perform the Vigil of the Dead ; whilst at table Gauvain sees the rich 
Grail serving out bread and wine to the knights. Gauvain remains alone 
after the meal ; he sees a lance which bleeds into a silver cup. The 
crowned knight again enters, bearing in his hand a broken sword which 
had belonged to the unknown knight, over whom he mourns. He hands 
the sword to Gauvain and asks him to put the pieces together. Gauvain 
cannot, whereupon the knight declares him unfit to fulfil the quest (li 
besoin) on which he came. Later he may try again. Gauvain asks con- 
cerning lance, sword, and bier. The lance, he is told, is the one wherewith 
the Son of God was pierced in the side, 'twill bleed till Doomsday. The 
tale of the broken sword which brought so much woe upon the kingdom 
of Logres will also be told, but here Gauvain falls fast asleep.t On the 

* Potvin's text, from the Mons MS., is taken as basi?. 

f Several MSS. here intercalate the history of Joseph of Arimatho:i : 
Joseph of Barimacie had the dish made ; with it he caught the blood running 
from the Saviour's body as it hung on the Cross, he afterwards begged the body 
of Pilate ; for the devotion showed the Grail he was denounced to the Jews, 
thrown into prison, delivered thence by the Lord, exiled together with the sister 
of Nicodemus, who had an image of the Lord. Joseph and his companions 
came to the promised land, the White Isle, a part of England. There they 
waned against them of the land. When Joseph was short of food he prayed 


morrow he wakes, and finds himself on the sea strand. He rides off, and 
behold the country has burst into green leaf, and the reason thereof is his 
having asked concerning the lance. The countryfolk both bless and curse 
him for having so far delivered them and for not having completed the 
deliverance by asking concerning the Grail. (4) He meets a young knight 
who turns out to be his son. (5) (Adventures in which Carahies, Gauvain's 
brother, is chief actor.) (6) The story returns to Perceval, who, after 
leaving the hermit, rides for three days and comes to a castle, over the 
door of which hangs a horn. Perceval blows therein, overcomes the knight 
who answers the challenge, and sends him to Arthur's court. (7) On his 
way to the Castle of Mont Orgellous, to the pillar of which only an accom- 
plished knight might tie his horse, he comes to the stream on whose banks 
he had previously met the Fisher King. Seeking for a bridge he meets a 
damsel on a mule, who, under pretence of showing a way across the river, 
tries to drown him. He then comes to a castle, which entering he finds 
untenanted. In the hall stands a chessboard. Perceval plays, is beaten, 
seizes the board and makes as if to throw it in the moat. Hereupon a 
damsel rises from the water to stay his hand, and coming into the room 
reproaches him. Overcome by her beauty he asks her favours. She will 
grant them if he bring the head of the stag which roams in the castle park. 
Thereto she lends him her hound, bidding him be sure he return it. The 
hunt follows ; Perceval overtakes the stag, slays it, and cutting off its head 
prepares to bring it back, when a maid of ill-chance (pucelle de malaire) 
takes and carries it off. Perceval claiming it is reproached by her for 
having slain her stag, but told he may win again the hound if he go to a 
mound whereon a knight is painted and say, " Vassal, what doest thou 
here?" The combat with the Knight of the Tomb follows, during which 
hound and stag's head are carried off by another knight, whom Perceval 
can only follow when he has overcome the Knight of the Tomb and driven 
him back therein. Now this knight, hight the Black Knight, had dwelt 
there summer and winter five years, striving with all-comers for the sake 
of his love. Perceval, following up the Eobber Knight, meets the damsel 
who had carried off the hound, but she only mocks him for answer to his 
questions. (8) After an adventure with a discourteous knight, Perceval 
meets at length a brother of the Bed Knight whom he had formerly slain, 

to the Creator to send him the Q-rail wherein he had gathered the holy blood, 
after which to them that sat at table the Grail brought bread and wine and meat 
in plenty. At his death, Joseph begged the Q-rail might remain with his seed, 
and thus it was that no one, of however high condition, might see it save he \vas 
of Joseph's blood. The Kich Fisher was of that kin, and so was Q-reloguevaus, 
from whom came Perceval. 

It is hardly necessary to point out that this must be an interpolation, as if 
Gauvain had really learnt all there was to be told concerning the Grail, there 
would have been no point in the reproaches addressed him by the countryfolk. 
The gist of the episode is that he falls asleep before the tale is all told. 


who tells him he had seen the daughter of the Fisher King, and she had 
told him of a knight who had carried off a hound and stag's head belonging 
to a good knight who had been at her court, and had omitted to ask con- 
cerning the grail, for which reason she had taken his hound and refused 
him help to follow the Bobber Knight. (9) Perceval is directed by the Red 
Knight's brother to the Fisher King's castle, but misses his way, and after 
an adventure at a castle, where he slays a lion, overcomes Abrioris and 
sends him to Arthur ; finds a damsel mourning over a knight slain by a 
giant, whom he kills, achieves the feat of the Ford Amorous, meets and 
fights with Gauvain's son until they learn who each other is, and at length 
comes to Belrepaire. (10) At first unrecognised by Blanchefleur he makes 
himself known, stays with her three days, and then rides off, in spite of 
her entreaties. (11) He meets Eosette (the loathly damsel) and Le Biaus 
Mauvais, laughs at the former, is challenged by the latter, whom he over- 
comes and sends to Arthur. (12) He comes to his mother's house, enters 
without making himself known, learns from his sister that his mother died 
at his departure ten years before, tells her who he is, and both set forth to 
their uncle, the hermit. On the way Perceval slays a knight who offers 
violence to his sister. They come to their uncle, sleep there, and on the 
morrow Perceval reveals himself, confesses, is reproved for having slain the 
knight the day before. Perceval, after mentioning his desire to learn more 
concerning lance, Grail, and sword, and receiving good advice from the her- 
mit, leaves with his sister, with whom he stays three days and then quits 
her, despite her piteous entreaties. (12a) Perceval comes to the Castle of 
Maidens, where he falls untimely asleep, and on the morrow finds himself 
in the forest, far from any castle. (13) Perceval finds the damsel who had 
carried off the hound, fights with her knight, Garalas, overcomes him, 
learns that the Knight of the Tomb is his brother, who had lived for ten 
years with a fay in a magic invisible castle, and had met no one to over- 
come him until Perceval came. Perceval sends both knight and damsel to 
Arthur. (14) Perceval meets with a white mule led by a damsel ; he joins 
her, although she entreats him not to do so. Suddenly struck by a great 
light in the forest, he turns to ask his companion what it might mean, but 
finds her gone. A violent storm comes on. The morrow he meets the 
damsel with the mule, who had felt no storm. She tells him about the 
great light : it came from the " Gre"aus," which was given by the King of 
kings as He hung on the Cross ; the devil may not lead astray any man 011 
the same day he sees it, therefore the king has it carried about. Perceval 
asks further, but is told only a holy man may speak of these mysteries. 
Perceval relates his adventure with the lady of the chessboard, and the 
damsel gives him the white mule, which will lead to her castle, together 
with a ring giving the possessor power over the mule. He is to give both 
back when he meets her. (16) The mule brings Perceval across a river, 
over a glass bridge, on the other side of which he meets with Brios, who 
persuades him to join in a tournament held by Arthur at the Castel Orguel- 
lous, as he must win the prize of knighthood before coming to the castle of 


the Fisher King. Perceval leaves stag's head and hound at Brios' castle, 
carries off the prize at the tournament, remaining unknown. (17) Pro- 
ceeding thence he frees a knight imprisoned beneath a tombstone, who, in 
return, shuts him up in the tomb, but, being unable to make the mule go 
forward, is obliged to release him, and returns to his prison, telling 
Perceval he knows him for the best knight in the world. (18) Perceval 
meets the damsel of the mule, to whom he returns ring and mule, and who 
asks him if he has been at the Fisher King's court ; on his saying, No, she 
hurries off. Perceval prays God to direct him to the Castle of the Chess- 
board. A voice tells him to follow the hound ; he does so, reaches the 
castle, is greeted by the maiden, to whom he gives stag's head and hound, 
and who in return tells him concerning the chessboard which Morghe la f& 
had had made at London, on the Thames, and grants him her favours as 
she had promised. On the morrow Perceval rides forth, accompanied 
awhile by the damsel, who will show him his onward way. (19) They 
come to a river, on which is a boat tied to an oak tree. Perceval is to 
enter it, cross the river, and on the other side he will find a road leading 
to the Fisher King. On his way Perceval releases a knight whom he finds 
hanging by his feet from a tree ; 'tis Bagommedes whom Keie had treated 
thus, and who returns to Arthur's court, challenges Keie, and is only 
hindered by Arthur from slaying him. All Arthur's knights then start 
forth for the Mont Dolorous and in search of Perceval. The adventures 
of Gauvain alone are related in detail until the tale returns to Perceval. 

(20) After freeing Bagommedes, Perceval, wandering in the woods, comes to 
a tree, in whose branches sits a child, who can tell nothing of the Fisher 
King, but tells Perceval he will come on the morrow to the Mont Dolorous. 
This he does, and binds his horse to the pillar. A damsel on a white mule 
tells him of Arthur's birth, and how Merlin had made castle and pillar to 
prove who should be the best of knights. She was Merlin's daughter. 

(21) Perceval rides on, and towards evening sees afar off a tree upon which 
burn many lights ; a,s he draws near he finds only a chapel, upon the altar 
of which lies a dead knight. A great and sudden light is followed by the 
appearance of a black hand, which puts out the candle on the altar. On the 
morrow he meets first a huntsman, who tells him he is near the castle, then 
a damsel, who explains the child in the tree, the chapel, and the black 
hand as having connection with the Holy Grail and the lance. (22) Perceval 
comes at last to the castle of the Fisher King, whom he finds on a couch 
as heretofore. He tells him his adventures, and asks concerning the child 
on the tree, the tree full of lights, and the chapel with the dead knight. 
Meanwhile a damsel enters a hall bearing the Grail, another follows with 
the bleeding lance, then comes a squire with a sword broken in two. 
Again Perceval puts his questions, and will not eat until they are answered. 
First, he is told of the child which would not speak to him on account of 
his many sins, and which climbed ever upwards to show man's thoughts 
should be raised to the Creator. Before learning aught further Perceval 
is to try and weld the broken sword together ; none but a true knight 


lover of God, and of God's spouse, Holy Church, may accomplish it. Per- 
ceval succeeds, save that a little crack still remains. The Fisher King, 
embraces him and hails him as lord of his house. 

Here the section which goes under the name of Gautier ends. 

[A portion of Gautier's section of the Conte du Graal is found in the 
Berne MS., partly edited, partly summarised, by Eochat in his work, Ein 
uribekannter Percheval li G'allois (vide infra p. 101). This version offers some 
remarkable peculiarities. It has a short introduction of thirteen lines ; then 
follows line 21,930 of Gautier in Potvin's text (Mons MS.). An incident 
follows, omitted in the Mons MS., but found in Montpellier and in Paris, 
794 : Perceval meets a huntsman who upbraids him for having been at 
the Fisher King's court, and failed to ask about Grail and bleeding lance. 
Then follow Incidents 6, 7 (8 is absent so far as one can judge from Eochat's 
summary), 9 to 13 (in which Perceval does not apparently send Garalas and 
his love to Arthur), and 14 to end, the following finish being then tacked 
on : The Fisher King is father to Alain le Gros, husband to Enigeus, sister 
to that Joseph who, when Christ's body was taken down from the Cross, 
had it from Pilate as a reward for his services. Joseph had the vessel 
prepared to catch in it the blood from the body ; it was the same Jesus 
had made the Sacrament in on the Thursday before. The Fisher King 
dies on the third day and Perceval reigns in his stead.]* 

The Conte du Graal is continued by 

(c) MANESSIER. (1) Perceval, full of joy, sits down to table ; after the 
meal, lance, Grail, and a goodly silver dish pass before the royal table 
away into the next room. Perceval, sighing, asks concerning these objects 
and the maidens bearing them. (2) The King tells as follows : the lance is 
that wherewith Longis pierced God's side that day he hung on the Cross 
(Montpellier MS. : When Longis withdrew the spear the blood ran down 
to feet, so that Joseph of Barimacie turned black from sorrow, and he col- 
lected the blood in the holy vessel). On Perceval's asking further, the 
Grail is the vessel wherein the holy precious blood of our Lord was 
received. Then Perceval asks how it came thither ; (3) Joseph brought it 
when he departed from the prison whence he was freed by Vespasian. He 
baptized forty of his friends, and wandered forth with them till they came 
to Sarras, where, as the tale tells, they found the King in the Temple of 

* The existence of this fragment shows the necessity of collating all the 
MSS. of the Conte du Graal and the impossibility of arriving at definite 
conclusions respecting the growth of the work before this is done. The writer 
of this version evidently knew nothing of Queste or Grand St. Graal, whilst he 
had knowledge of Borron's poem, a fact the more remarkable since none of the 
other poets engaged upon the Conte du Graal knew of Borron, so far, at least, 
as can be gathered from printed sources. It is hopeless in the present state of 
knowledge to do more than map out approximately the leading sections of the 

C 2 


the Sun. Joseph helped the King against his enemies by means of a red 
cross which he fixed on the King's shield. Evelac, such was the King's 
name, won the battle thereby, was baptized, and renamed Noodraiis. It 
went so likewise with his brother-in-law, Salafre~s, renamed Natiien. Joseph 
departed thence, ever bearing the Grail with him, till at length he came 
hither, converted the land, and I, of his seed, am keeping manor and Grail, 
the which shall never dwell elsewhere, God willing. (Montpellier MS. 
merely says, how Joseph was put into a dark prison, and kept there forty 
years, but the Lord sent him the sweetness of the Grail twice or thrice a 
day. Tiberius and Vespasian deliver him and bring him to Home, whence 
he carries away the lance.) (4) To Perceval's questions concerning the 
damsels : the Grail-bearer is of royal blood, and pure maid, or God might 
not let her hold it, she is my child ; the dish-bearer is also of high lineage, 
daughter to King Goon Desert. (5) The King would then go to sleep, but 
Perceval would know about the broken sword : In Quiquagrant dwelt 
Goon Desert, the King's brother. Besieged by Espinogre he made a sally 
and slew him. Espiuogre's nephew swore revenge ; donning the armour 
of a knight of Goon Desert, he slew him, but the sword broke when the 
traitrous blow was struck. Goon Desert's body was brought to his brother's 
castle, whither came, too, his daughter with the broken sword, foretelling 
that a knight should come, rejoin the pieces, and avenge the foul blow. 
The Fisher King taking up the fragments incautiously was pierced through 
the thigh, and the wound might not be healed until his brother's death was 
avenged. The murderer's name is Partiniaus, Lord of the Eed Tower. 
Perceval vows to avenge this wrong, but first, despite the King's strong 
hints that it is bed-time, must learn (6) about the candles on the trees, 
how they are fay trees, and the lights deceiving ones, but they might not 
deceive Perceval, he being destined to achieve the wonders of the earth, 
and he has put an end to this illusion ; (7) how the black hand haunted a 
chapel wherein Pinogres had slain his mother, and over four thousand 
knights had been slain by it. (8) Perceval starting on the morrow in search 
of Partinal meets with Saigremors, and with him delivers a damsel from ten 
robber knights. Perceval, wounded, stays a month at the damsel's castle, 
and (9) the story tells for some fifteen hundred verses (36,100-37,400) of 
Saigremors ; how he pursues the robber knights, conies to the Castle of 
Maidens, delivers the dame thereof from a knight, Calides, who wars upon 
her, arid afterwards delivers another maiden, to whom two knights were 
offering violence ; (10) then, for over two thousand verses of Gauvain ; how 
he prepares to set forth again in search of the Fisher King ; how a maiden 
comes to him whose brother had been slain in his service, reproaches 
Gauvain for his conduct at the Fisher King's castle, and carries him off ; 
how he saves a maid going to be burnt ; how after other adventures he slays 
King Margon, returns to Arthur's court, fights with Kex to avenge the 
brother of the damsel, etc. (11) Meanwhile Perceval, leaving the damsel 
who has tended him right well, rides forth into a wood, where he is over- 
taken by a great storm of thunder and hail, after which he comes to the 


chapel where lies the body of the knight slain by the black hand. Per- 
ceval strives with the devil to whom this belongs, overcomes, and with the 
help of a hermit who tells him the tale of all the knights who had fallen 
there, buries the body. He then confesses to the hermit, who warns him 
not to think of acquiring fame, but rather to save his soul. (12) Perceval, 
riding forth on the morrow, is met by the devil, who throws hirn from his 
horse ; he finds another, mounts it, but coming to a stream luckily crosses 
himself, when it disappears ; it was the devil. (13) A damsel passes by 
with a bark, wherein Perceval mounts ; she minds him of Blanchefleur, 
and desire masters him, but again he crosses himself in time, and ship and 
damsel vanish. (14) A hermit comes who instructs him concerning all 
these things, brings him where he finds a fresh steed, and to a fair castle. 
Perceval overcomes a knight who would bar his passing, delivers the lady 
love of Dodinel from a felon knight ; is appealed .to for help by a damsel of 
Blanchefleur's, oppressed by Arides of Cavalon. (15) Setting off to the 
succour of his lady love, his horse falls lame, he comes to a smith, who tells 
him his name is Tribuet, the forger of the broken sword. Tribuet makes 
the sword whole, and bids Perceval guard it well, never had king or con- 
queror a better one. (16) Perceval reaches Bel Eepaire, overcomes Arides, 
whom he sends to Arthur's court, bidding him announce his own arrival 
for Whitsuntide. He then quits Blanchefleur, and (17) meets with the 
Coward Knight, who will not fight even when he sees two damsels carried 
off by ten knights. Perceval attacks the ravishers, the Coward Knight is 
drawn into the struggle, and quits himself valiantly. The rescued damsels 
bring the knights- to their castle, where Perceval, sore wounded, remains 
for two months. (18) Meanwhile Saigremors has announced Perceval's 
arrival at Camelot. Whitsuntide passing, all the knights set forth in 
search of him, and, amongst others, Boort ; he meets his brother Lyonel 
led, bound and naked, by six knights, who scourge him, and at the same 
moment he hears the plaint of a maid to whom a knight is doing violence. 
Her he succours, then hurries after his brother, whom, meanwhile, Gauvaiu 
has rescued. Lyonel bitterly reproaches his brother for abandoning him, 
and falls upon him, sword in hand ; Boort offers no defence, and would be 
slain but for a passing knight, Calogrinant, who pays for his interference 
with his life. Finally, heavenly intervention appeases Lyonel. Calogrinant 
is buried by a hermit. (19) Perceval, healed, leaves the castle together with 
the Coward Knight, is present with him at a tournament, at which he dis- 
tinguishes himself above all others, leaves his companion, to whom he gives 
the name Le Hardis, and (20) meets Hector, who challenges him. The 
two fight, and well-nigh kill each other. To them, lying on the field of 
combat, appears an angel with the Grail, and makes them whole. (21) 
Perceval rides on to Partinal's castle, before which stands a fir tree 
whereon hangs a shield. Perceval throws this down, whereupon Partinal 
appears and a desperate combat ensues, ended by the overthrow of Partinal, 
and, as he will submit to no conditions, his death. Perceval cuts off his 
head and makes for the Grail Castle, but only after a summer's seeking, 


lights upon it chancewise. (22) As he nears the castle, the warders come 
to the King, telling him a knight is coming with a head hanging at his 
saddle-bow ; hereupon the King leaps to his feet and is straightway made 
whole. PartinaPs head is stuck on a pike on the highest tower of the 
castle. After supper, at which the same mystic procession of talismans 
takes place as heretofore, the King learns Perceval's name, and thereby 
finds that he is his own sister's son. He would hand him his crown, but 
Perceval has vowed not to take it, his uncle living. (23) He returns 
to Arthur's court, overcoming on the way seven knights, and tells his 
adventures, which Arthur has written down and kept in a box at Salis- 
bury. The Grail damsel appears and tells Perceval his uncle is dead. 
Perceval goes to Corbierc accompanied by all the court, who assist at his 
crowning and remain with him a month, during which time the Grail feeds 
all with the costliest foo(Js. He marries his cousins, the two Grail-bearers, 
to two valiant kings, and reigns in peace for seven years. (24) After which 
time he follows a hermit into the wilderness, accompanied by Grail, lance, 
and holy dish. He serves the Lord for ten years, and, when he dies, Grail, 
lance, and dish were doubtless carried up to heaven, for since that day no 
man saw them. 

(d) GERBERT. (According to Birch Hirschfeld interpolated between 
Gautier and Manessier, and joining on therefore to the last incident in 

(1) Perceval's sin in having indirectly caused the death of his mother 
disables him from making whole the broken sword, and he must set forth 
again in search of the Grail. In the night he dreams a danger threatens 
his sister, and on the morrow he wakes up in open field, the Grail 
Castle having vanished. (2) He comes to a fair castle in the midst of a 
meadow, and, finding the door shut, knocks at it with his sword till the 
latter breaks. An old man appears, and tells him the broken sword will 
cost him seven years more wanderings until he come again to the Grail 
Castle. All he can do for Perceval is to give him a letter which heals the 
wounded and makes the wearer invincible. (3) Perceval riding thence 
through country that the day before was waste and folkless, finds it now 
well cultivated and peopled ; all press round him and bless him for the 
change wrought by his asking concerning the Grail. (4) He comes to a 
castle wherein is a forge guarded by two serpents, and on it was a sword 
forged for a year, and it might not be broken, save in a certain danger, or 
mended save at the same forge. Perceval, after resisting the devil in the 
shape of a fair maid, attacks and overcomes the two serpents, and has his 
sword mended by the blacksmith, who tells him how he broke it at the 

* It is by no means clear to me that G-erbert's portion of the Conte du Graal 
is an interpolation. I am rather inclined to look upon it as an independent 
finish. As will be shown later on, it has several features in common with both 
Mtibinogi and Wolfram, features pointing to a common prototype. 


gate of Paradise. (5) After making whole by his letter two knights of the 
Bound Table who had lost their wits in Castle Dolorous, Perceval comes to 
Carlion, to Arthur's court, and accomplishes the adventure of the Perillous 
Seat which a fairy had sent to Arthur. Only the destined Grail-finder 
might sit in it. Six knights who had previously essayed the feat had IH-CH 
swallowed up by the earth ; they reappear when Perceval is successful. 
(6) Perceval is called away from the court by a forsaken damsel, whose 
false lover he compels to marry her ; then, after overcoming fresh tempta- 
tion in damsel-shape, he comes to his sister's castle, overcomes her adversary, 
who turns out to be Mordret, and reaches the Castle of Maidens, where he 
is healed of his wounds by the lady of the castle, his cousin. She tells him 
of his mother, Philosofine, and how the Grail was taken from the ken of 
man owing to the sinfulness of the world. Perceval leaves his sister in this 
castle where dames are cha.ste and damsels maids. (7) Returning to court, 
whither Mordret had preceded him in sorry plight, Perceval is mocked at 
by Kex, whom he overcomes, and afterwards meets Gauvain and Tristan. 
(8) Leaving the court, he meets with four knights carrying their father, 
mortally wounded, accompanies them to their castle, recognises in the 
wounded knight, Gornumant, who had knighted him, swears to avenge 
him, tells all that has befallen himself, and learns that the cause of his 
successive failures is his forsaking his betrothed, Blanchefleur, whom he 
knows to be Gornumant's niece. He is told that if he listen heedfully to 
mass and marry the damsel all will be well, and he will learn the secrets 
of lance and Grail. But first Perceval overcomes a hideous hag, who by 
night brings to life Gornumant's enemies slain during the day. She has a 
potion, whereof Christ made use in the sepulchre, and with it she quickens 
the dead. She recognizes Perceval and acknowledges him as her conqueror, 
yet while she lives he shall know nought of the Grail ; she works by order' 
of the King of the Waste City, who hates all Christian folk. Perceval 
tries the virtue of the potion on the most valiant of his enemies, with 
whom he engages in a fresh and desperate struggle, heals Gornumant with 
it, and sets off to marry Blanchefleur, as he is wishful to live cleanly and 
fly deadly sin. (9) She is overjoyed at his arrival ; preparations are made 
for the marriage ; the night before, she comes to his bedside in smock and 
mantle, and they pass the night side by side, but with the sheet between 
them. The wedding follows, and then, fearful of losing the heavenly joy 
for sake of carnal longing, they resolve to resist the devil and live virgin- 
wise, for virginity surpasseth aught else, even as the topaz does crystal. 
Perceval, in a dream, is assured that of his seed shall be the Swan Knight 
and the deliverer of the Holy Sepulchre. Meanwhile he is still to search 
after lance and Grail. (10) On the morrow he quits Blanchefleur, "maid 
she laid her to bed, maid she arose ; " frees a maiden pursued by a brutal 
knight ; (11) comes to a castle where the wayfarer must first fight against 
four knights and then against the lord of the castle : does away with this 
custom ; (12) comes to cross roads, whereof one is safe and easy, the other 
adventurous and full of danger ; meets a knight all on fire ; sees two 


hermits, one kneeling at a cross, the other scourging it ; then a wonderful 
beast, a doe followed by fawns, which assail and devour her ; (13) is pre- 
sented at a hermit's with a shield none but the Grail- winner may wear, 
after which the table heretofore meanly spread is covered with rich fare, 
and learns the meaning of the mystic scenes he has witnessed. (14) He is 
summoned by a damsel, who tells him of the Dragon King, lord of a heathen 
folk dwelling in mid-sea, possessor of a shield whereon is painted a dragon 
that belches forth flame. Perceval sets forth to attack him, resists the 
devil who dwells in the dragon head, thanks to his miraculous shield 
whereon the cross is painted, and forces him to flee ; continues the fight 
against the Dragon Knight without his shield, and slays him, but not till he 
has repented him of his sins. (15) Meanwhile a thief has made off with the 
shield, in pursuing whom Perceval comes to an abbey, where he learns the 
story of Joseph of Arimathea. Some forty years after the Crucifixion lived 
a heathen king, Evelac, in Sarras, wheref rom the Saracens have their name, 
sore pressed by Tholomes, King of Syria. But Joseph of Barimaschie, who 
had been five years in Pilate's service, comes to him, and with him his 
brother-in-law, Seraphe ; he promised the King victory if he would let 
himself be baptized. The King consented, and received the name of 
Mordrach, Joseph then came to this land, and with him sixty folk and 
two fair ladies, whereof the one, Philosophine, bore a plate, the other an 
ever-bleeding lance, whilst Joseph had a vessel, never saw man a fairer 
one. But King Crudel flung Joseph and his companions into prison, where 
they dwelt forty days, but it harmed them not, as through the Holy Grail 
they were filled with great plenty and had every wish fulfilled. Now, 
Mordrains, learning this, brought together a great host, invaded King 
Crudel's lands, attacked and slew him. Mordrains, disarming, was found 
to be covered with wounds, none of which he had felt. On the morrow 
Joseph put up a table, altar-wise, and thereon laid the Grail, which Mor- 
drains seeing, pressed near to. But an angel with a fiery sword kept him 
back, and a voice assured him he had laid such a burden on his shoulders 
as he might not pass away, nor would his wounds be healed until should 
come the true knight, loved of Christ, sinless, and in his arms he, Mor- 
drains, should die. And till then the Host should be his only food. Since 
then three hundred years have passed, and the monks have heard that the 
knight is in the land who shall ask concerning lance and Grail, and thereby 
heal the king. (16) Perceval leaves on the morrow and comes to a castle 
wherein is a coffin, brought thereto in a boat drawn by a swan ; none save 
the best knight in the world may open it. All have tried, even Gauvain, 
and failed. Perceval succeeds, and finds in the coffin the body of a knight, 
former lord of the castle, and a letter setting forth that he who should open 
the coffin was his murderer. Perceval, attacked in consequence by the 
dead man's son^, defends himself by making a buttress of the youngest 
son's body. Afterwards he overcomes the folk of the castle, and delivers 
Gauvain, held prisoner therein. (17) Perceval, after confessing his sins to 
a hermit, has an adventure with the devil, who comes out of a tomb, but 


whom he forces back therein. (18) He then succours a maiden whom her 
jealous lover has thrown into a fountain ; (19) punishes a damsel who 
tempts him in traitrous-wise ; (20) meets with and is sore pressed by a 
giant, whom he overcomes ; (21) has a fresh and victorious encounter with 
Kex, and, finally, (22) arrives at crossways, is directed by the cross to the 
Fisher King's court, reaches it, asks straightway for the Grail, is questioned 
by the King and relates his allegorical adventures. At table the Grail 
appears, followed by lance and sword. Perceval pieces together the sword, 
and the King, full of joy, embraces him. 

Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival. Gahmuret, Parzival's 
father, goes to the East, takes service with Baruc, wins the love of the 
heathen queen Belakane, but after remaining with her a short time 
forsakes her, promising to return if she become Christian. She bears a 
son, and names him Feirefiz. Gahmuret by his prowess at a tournament 
wins the love of Herzeloyde, whom he marries on condition he may go a 
tourneying every month. Hearing his old lord Baruc is in danger, he 
hastens to his aid, and is slain. Herzeloyde on receipt of the news resolves 
to withdraw to the wilderness, and bring up her son in ignorance of 

[From this point up to and including the adventure with Orgeuilleuse, 
where Chrestieii's share of the Conte du Graal breaks off, Wolfram agrees 
very closely with Chrestien. It has been much debated in Germany whether 
he really had any other model but Chrestien, and whether his alleged 
model Kyot be not a feigned source to justify his departure from the story 
as found in the Conte du Graal. A brief outline of the arguments for and 
against this view will be found in Appendix A. The chief points of 
difference in the portion common to the two poets are : the more impor- 
tant position in the narrative assigned to Perceval's cousin, whom Wolfram 
names Sigune, who is fed from the Grail by the Grail messenger, the 
loathly damsel, and about whose loves with Schianatulander Wolfram has 
left fragments of another poem, Titurel. Parzival meets her immediately 
after his adventure with the lady of the tent. Parzival's love is named 
Condwiramur. On the first night of their marriage he' leaves her maid 
(as in Gerbert's version). But the most important peculiarity of Wolfram's 
poem is his account of the Grail itself, a stone which yields all manner of 
food and drink, the power of which is sustained by a dove, which every 
week lays a Host upon it, given, after the fall of the rebel angels, in charge 
to Titurel and his dynasty, by them preserved in the Grail castle, Mont- 
sal vatch, guarded by a sacred order of knighthood whom it chooses itself 
The knights are vowed to virginity, the king alone being allowed marriage. 
The cause of the maimed king's (Amfortas) hurt is his having taken up arms 
in the cause of worldly and unlawful love. When Parzival leaves the Grail 
castle after the first visit, he is mocked at by the inmates for having omitted 
the question. More stress is laid on the broken sword, connected with 
which is a magic spell Parzival must master before he can become lord of the 


Grail castle. The " loathly damsel," Kundrie, is also a much more impor- 
tant person with Wolfram than with Chrestien, and she is brought into 
contact with Parzival's cousin, Sigune. Parzival's love for his wife is 
dwelt upon at length, and he is urged by the hermit rather to rejoin her 
than to seek the Grail.] 

After the adventure with Orgueilleuse, Wolfram continues as follows : 
The lord of the magic castle, wherein are kept prisoners Arthur's mother 
and the other queens, is Clinschor, nephew of Virgilius of Naples, who took 
to magic after his unmanning at the hands of King Ibert, whose wife, 
Iblis, he loved. Gawain overcomes the magician, and, both unknowing, 
fights with Parzival. The latter, after many lesser adventures, meets his 
half-brother Feirefiz, and sustains with him the hardest of all his fights. 
At length recognition is brought about, the two embrace, and repair to 
Arthur's court. Cundrie nears once more, tells Parzival he has been 
chosen Grail king, that his wife and twin sons, Loherangrin and Kardeiz, 
have been summoned to the Grail castle, and that the question will now 
free Amfortas and his land. With Cundrie and Feirefiz, Parzival rides to 
the Grail castle, meets his wife, together they all behold the talismans, 
save Feirefiz, to whom as a heathen the sight of the Grail is denied. But 
he is baptised, weds Eepanse de Schoie, the Grail damsel, the two return 
to India, and from them is born Prester John. Parzival rules over his 
Grail kingdom. Of his son Loherangrin it is told how he is led to the 
aid of the Duchess of Brabant by a swan, how he marries her on condition 
she inquire not as to his origin, and how, on her breaking the command, 
the swan carries him away from her. 

Heinrich von dem Tiirlin. The Gawain Episodes of Dm Crdne. 
The parallelism of Heinrich's poem with those of Wolfram and Chrestien 
begins about verse 17,500 with an adventure of Gawain's corresponding to 
Inc. 13 in Chrestien (Tournament for the hand of Tiebaut of Tingaguel's 
daughter, episode of the two sisters, combat with Melians de Lis). In 
Heinrich the father is named Leigamar, the eldest daughter Fursensephin, 
(Fleur sans epine ?), the youngest Quebelepluz, where Heinrich has taken a 
French phrase setting forth the greater fairness of the damsel for a proper 
name. Inc. 14 in Chrestien then follows with these differences : the name 
of the castle is Karamphi ; Gawain and the facile damsel are surprised by 
the latter's brother, and it is her father who, to avenge the wrong done his 
house, makes Gawain swear that within a year he will either seek out the 
Grail or return as prisoner to Karamphi. Chrestien 's Inc. 15 is of course 
missing, the story going straight on to Inc. 16, meeting with the wounded 
knight (here Lohenis) and his lady love Emblie, who by treachery deprive 
Gawain of his steed ; then the arrival at the Castle of Wonders, and the night 
passed in the enchanted bed, where the hero is overwhelmed with cross- 
bolts shot at him by invisible foes. The plucking of the flower from the 
enchanted garden at the bidding of a damsel (Orgueilleuse in Chrestien 
and Wolfram, here Mancipicelle), and the meeting with and challenge by 

Giremelanz follow. Arthur's court comes to the Castle of Wonders to 
witness the combat. Gawain and Giremelanz are reconciled, the latter 
marries Gawain's sister, and Gawain himself sets off to search for the 
Grail. [Adventures then follow which correspond to nothing in Chrestien 
or Wolfram, in which Gawain wins talismans destined to aid him in his 
search.] Gawain sets forth on his quest accompanied by Kay, Lancelot, 
and Calocreant. They part at crossways. Gawain comes to the sister of 
the magician (anonymous in Chrestien, Klinschor in Wolfram, here Gans- 
guoter) of the Castle of Wonders. She bids him take heed, if he wish to 
see the Grail, he be not overcome by sleep, and for this that he drink not 
overmuch ; as soon as he saw it and its accompanying damsels, he was to 
ask about it. If he neglected this, all his past and any future toil would 
be useless. On his way to the Grail castle, the hero meets with all sorts 
of dangers, and obstacles, and wonders ; amongst others, passing the night 
in a castle where he is tended by invisible hands. After month-long 
wanderings he meets with Lancelot and Calocreant, and learns that Kay, 
in a vain attempt to penetrate to the Grail, has been flung into prison. 
The three comrades then come to the Grail castle. They are led into a 
hall which passes in splendour aught earthly eye ever saw. The floor is 
strewn with roses, on a bed lies an old man in gold -embroidered garments, 
and watches two youths playing at chess. Towards night the hall fills 
with knights and dames, a youth enters bearing a sword which he lays 
before the old man. Gawain is pressed to drink ; but refuses, not so his 
two companions, who straightway fall asleep. Then enter two damsels 
bearing lights, followed by two knights with a spear, and two more 
damsels with a " toblier " (? tailleor, plate) of gold and jewels. After them 
comes the fairest woman ever God created, and with her a maiden weeping. 
The spear is laid 011 the table, by it the " toblier " wherein are three drops 
of blood. In the box borne by the fair lady is a piece of bread, one third 
part of which she breaks off and gives to the old man. Gawain recognising 
in her Gansguoter's sister, stays no longer, but asks what these wonders 
mean. Straightway knights and dames all with mighty shout leap from 
table, and great joy arises. The old man says what he has seen is the 
Grail ; none saw it before save Parzival, and he asked not. By his question 
Gawain has delivered from long waiting and suffering both those which are 
dead and those which live. The old man himself and his companions are 
really dead, though they seem it not, but the lady and her damsels are living ; 
for their unstained womanhood God has granted them to have the Grail, 
and therewith yearly to feed the old man. All Gawain's adventures latterly 
have come from the Grail. Now he has ended all, he is to take as prize 
of his knighthood the sword which will help him in every danger. After 
him no man shall see the Grail ; further concerning it he must not ask, 
nor may know more. At daybreak the old man's tale ends, and he with 
his whole court vanish, leaving only the lady with her five damsels. 
[After releasing Kay, and undergoing other adventures, Gawain returns 
to Arthur's court.] 


The Petit Saint Graal or Didot-Perceval* Prologue. After 
the choosing of Arthur to be King, Merlin comes to the court, and tells 
how Arthur is Uther-Pendragon's son, brought up by Antor as his 
son. All rejoice at this, especially Gauvain, son of Lot. After dinner 
the barons bring Merlin to Arthur, and tell him how he was the prophet 
of TJther-Pendragon, and had made the Bound Table. Arthur promises 
to honour Merlin. The latter calls him apart with Gauvain and Key, and 
tells him how, in the time of Uther-Pendragon, the Round Table was 
made after the pattern of one Joseph constructed when he separated the 
good from the evil. Two Kings of Britain before had been Kings of 
France, and conquered Borne ; Queen Sibyl and Solomon had prophesied 
Arthur should be third, and he, Merlin, was the third to assure him of it. 
But this could only be if Arthur established the Bound Table as Merlin 
directed. Now the Grail had been given Joseph by our Lord himself, and 
at His command Joseph led a great folk into the desert. And when evil 
befell them Joseph, at our Lord's command, made a table ; whereat one 
place was left empty in remembrance of Judas. But Moyses, a false 
disciple, sat therein, but sank into the abyss, whereout he shall not come 
until the time of Antichrist. Our Lord made the first table ; Joseph, the 
second ; he, Merlin, the third. The Grail was given into the keeping of 
the rich Fisher King ; but he was old, full of sickness, and should not win 
health till a knight came, having sat at the Bound Table, true man of God 
and of Holy Chiirch, and the best knight in the world for feats of arms. 
He must ask the rich fisher of what use is the Grail ; then the King would 
be cured of his infirmity, the enchantments of Britain would cease, arid the 
prophecy be fulfilled. Should Arthur do this, great good would come of it ; 
he, Merlin, must go, as he could not often show himself to the people. 
Whereupon he departs to Ortoberland, to Blaise, his master, who writes 
down these things, and by his writings we know them. The son of Alein 
le Gros is a child named Percevaux, and as Alein is dying he hears the 
voice of the Holy Ghost saying, Know thou art near thy end, and wilt soon 
come into the fellowship of Jesus Christ. Brons, thy father, dwells in 
these isles of Ireland, and with him is the Grail. And he may not die 
until thy son finds him, to whom he shall commend the grace of the vessel, 
and teach the secret words Joseph taught him, then shall he be cured of 
his infirmities. And I command thy son that he go to the court of Arthur, 
where he shall be taught how he may find the house of his grandfather. 
Alein dies, and Percevaux mounts his horse and comes to Arthur's court, 
and asks arms from him, and stays there and is much loved. 

(1) Arthur proposes holding a tournament at Easter, the greatest the 
world had seen, to honour the Bound Table. Perceval at first takes no part 

* In the solitary MS. which gives this version, it follows, as has already 
been stated, prose versions of Eobert de Borron's undoubted poems, " Joseph of 
Arimathea " and " Merlin." 


in the tournament ; but afterwards, for love of Aleine, niece of Gauvain, 
who incites him thereto, and sends him. a suit of red armour, he enters the 
lists unknown, and overbears all opponents, so that all say he should fill the 
empty place at the Round Table. Perceval claims the empty place from the 
King, and when refused threatens to return to his land and never visit the 
court again. Arthur yields, and Perceval seats himself. Then the rocks 
and the earth groan dolorously, and a voice reproaches Arthur with having 
disobeyed Merlin's command. Were it not the goodness of Alein le Gros 
Perceval had died the death of Moys. Now should Arthur know the vessel 
our Lord gave Joseph was in the keeping of the rich fisher, and he was ill 
and infirm, and until the best knigbt in the world should come might 
not die. And when that knight should come to the rich fisher and ask 
concerning the vessel, then should he be cured, but die within three days 
after giving the vessel to that knight, and teaching him the secret words 
handed down by Joseph. Thus the enchantments of Britain should cease. 
(2) Perceval swears not to lie one night where he had lain the night before 
till he find the lich fisher. Gauvain, Sagremors, Beduers, Hurgains, and 
Erec swear the same. The knights set forth amid general lamentation. They 
part at a chapel, and the story follows Perceval. (3) He comes, after two 
days, upon a damsel weeping over a knight, Hurganet, one of the Round 
Table, who had gone forth on the Grail Quest. He had delivered her from 
a giant, and ridden with her into a tent where they found knights and 
ladies, who warned them not to await the owner, the " Orgoillos Delandes," 
who would kill him. And whilst speaking a dwarf entered, scourge in 
hand, who threw down the tent. The Lord of the Tent then appeared, clad 
in red armour, and slew Hurganet. Perceval determines to avenge his 
death ; rides to the tent with the damsel ; is warned of its inmates ; is 
surprised by the dwarf, who smites the damsel with his scourge, where- 
upon Perceval fells him to the ground. The Knight of the Tent appears ; 
after a desperate struggle Perceval overcomes him and sends him with the 
damsel to Arthur's court. She had fain stayed with him, but he thought of 
other things. (4) Perceval comes to the finest castle in the world, enters, 
and finds no inhabitant. Only a chessboard he finds. He begins to move 
the pieces, and they play against him, and he is checkmated three times 
running. Full of anger he prepares to throw the chessmen into the castle 
mO at suddenly a damsel shows herself and reproaches him. He will 
abstain if she comes to him. She consents, and after her squires and 
maidens have disarmed Perceval he joins her. Overcome by her beauty 
he requests her love. She will grant it him if he capture the white stag 
of the wood. She lends him her hound, and recommends him to take the 
utmost care of it. Perceval chases the stag, captures it, and, having cut off 
its head, starts back. But meanwhile an old woman has carried off the 
hound. She will only give it up a if Perceval will go to a grave whereunder 
is a knight painted, and say : " Felon, he that put you there." Perceval 
complies ; whereupon appears a knight on a black horse armed in black. 
They strive, and Perceval overcomes him. But meantime a second knight 


has carried off both the stag's head and the hound from the old woman. 
Perceval'.s adversary flees to the tomb, which closes upon him, and Perceval 
follows the second knight after a vain attempt to get help from the old 
woman. (5) Him he found not ; but after feats longer than I can tell, 
comes to his father's house, where he was born. He only finds his sister 
and a niece. The former tells him concerning her brother, who went to 
Arthur's court ; whereupon their mother died of grief. Perceval reveals 
himself, and is amazed at what she relates concerning the Grail and its 
guardian, and asks if he may come to behold it. She answers, Yes ; where- 
upon he vows not to rest till he have found it. She attempts to dissuade 
him, but he remains firm. She then urges him to go to their uncle, who is 
a hermit, to whom he may confess the sin of his mother's death, and who 
will advise him concerning the Quest. (6) Both proceed thither. He 
rejoices to see them, and asks if Perceval has been to the house of his 
father, guardian of the vessel named Grail, and, on hearing that he has not, 
tells him how at the table which Joseph and himself had made, the voice 
of the Holy Ghost had come to them, telling them to go westward, and 
ordering the rich fisher, his father, to come to that land where the sun goes 
down (avaloit), telling him he should not die till the son of Alein had 
become the best knight in the world. Perceval had been chosen to do his 
Lord's service ; he is to slay no knight nor to lie with any woman, that 
being luxurious sin. His sins have prevented his reaching Brons. He is 
to be careful to keep himself from sin and felony, being of a race our Lord 
so loved that He committed His blood to their keeping. Much else he says, 
and on the morrow Perceval and his sister ride forth. (7) They meet a 
knight who challenges them. Perceval, thinking of the damsel who had 
given him the hound, at first pays no attention, but then overcomes and 
slays him. Perceval is much grieved at having so soon broken his uncle's 
injunction. On the morrow he leaves his sister, promising to return so soon 
as he may. (8) He meets a knight, accompanied by a damsel the most 
wonderfully ugly nature ever made, whereat he signs himself and laughs. 
The knight, indignant, challenges him, but is overcome and sent with the 
damsel to Arthur's court. Kay makes mock of them ; but Arthur reproves 
him and receives them courteously. They remain at the court, and know 
that she was the most beautiful woman in the world ! (9) Perceval comes 
to a ford and is challenged by its guardian, whom he overcomes. His name 
is Urban of the Black Thorn ; his lady had set him to guard the ford. Her 
castle vanishes with a great noise, and she comes to her lover's aid with 
her maidens in shape of birds. Perceval slays one who becomes a woman, 
and is carried off by the others to Avallon. (10) Perceval comes to a tree 
at the crossing of four roads, among its branches he sees two naked chil- 
dren of seven years old. They speak to him concerning the Grail, and 
direct him to take the road to the right. They vanish, and a voice tells 
him to heed their counsel. (11) Perceval comes to a river whereon are 
three men in a boat, and the master of the boat bids him go down the 
stream till he should come to his house. Perceval rides a whole day with- 


out finding it, and curses the fisher. At last he comes to a castle with 
lowered drawbridge, enters, and is robed in scarlet by two squires. Mean- 
while four attendants have carried the Fisher King, father of Alein, and 
grandfather of Perceval, into the hall. The King wished to do Perceval 
what honour he might. They eat, and whilst at table a squire comes out 
of a chamber, and brings in both hands a lance, whence flows a drop of 
blood. Him follows a damsel bearing two silver plates and clothes ; then 
a squire with a vessel in which was our Lord's blood. All bow as he 
passes, and Perceval had fain asked, but he fears to displease the King, 
minding him of the worthy man to whom he had confessed, and who for- 
bade his speaking too much and enquiring overmuch for a man of idle 
words is displeasing to our Lord. All night Perceval thinks of the lance 
and of the Grail, and in the morning, on waking, finds neither man nor 
woman. He sets forth to seek some one, but in vain, and is greatly dis- 
tressed. (12) He finds a damsel weeping bitterly, who, seeing him, cries 
out : " Percevaux le Gallois, be accursed, unhappier art thou than ever, 
having been in the house of the rich Fisher King, and not having asked 
concerning the Grail. Thy Lord hates thee ; and 'tis wonder the earth do 
not open beneath thee." Had he not seen Grail and lance pass ? Had he 
asked what one did with them, the King, cured of his infirmity, would have 
returned to his youth ; our Lord's prophecy to Joseph been fulfilled, and 
the enchantments of Britain undone. But Perceval is neither wise, valiant, 
nor true man enough to have charge of the blood. But he shall come again 
and ask concerning the Grail, and his grandfather shall be cured. (13) 
The damsel departs, and Perceval, unable to find his grandfather's house, 
rides on and comes to a tree under which a damsel is sitting, and in whose 
branches the stag's head, which had been carried off from him, is hanging. 
Perceval takes it, and when his hound following a stag comes up, takes 
possession of it likewise. But the knight who had taken them appears. 
Perceval fights with and overcomes him ; learns that he is the brother of 
the Knight of the Tomb, who lives therein with his love, sister of the damsel 
for whose sake Perceval had hunted the stag. To her Perceval now returns, 
gives her hound and stag's head, and then departs refusing the offer of her 
love, even to stop one night with her. (14) Perceval wanders for seven 
years achieving many feats, and sending more than one hundred knights 
prisoners to Arthur ; but, not being able to find his grandfather's house, he 
falls into such melancholy as to lose his memory, so that he minds him no 
more of God, and never enters Church. One Good Friday, fully armed, 
he meets a knight and ladies in penitents' dress, who reproach him for 
going armed on a day that our Lord was crucified. Perceval repents ; 
returns to his uncle, the hermit ; learns that his sister is dead, and does 
penitence. The songmen, in their pleasing rhymes, say nothing of this ; 
but we tell you of it as we find it in the tale Merlin made Blaise write 
down. (15) Perceval rides forth and meets seven squires of Melianz de 
Liz, who is going to a tournament at the White Castle, the damsel of which 
is to be the victor's prize. All the knights of the Eound Table will be 


there, having returned that "Whitsuntide from the Quest of the Grail with- 
out achieving aught. Perceval leaves the squires and come to a castle 
where he puts up. His host urges him to take part in the tournament. 
The morrow they ride forth and look on ; Melianz wears the scarf of the 
lady of the castle ; he and Gauvaiii prove themselves the best knights, the 
onlooking ladies know not to whom to award the prize. The next day, 
Perceval, having resolved upon taking part, accepts the scarf of his host's 
daughter, overcomes all adversaries, and sends steeds to the lady in return 
for her scarf. Being asked by his host if he will not woo the damsel of the 
White Castle, Perceval answers he may not take wife. Then appears an 
old man who reproaches Perceval for going to a tournament, and with for- 
getting his vow to sleep no two nights in the same house till the Quest be 
accomplished. He is Merlin, come from Hortoblande, to say that owing to 
the prayers of Perceval's uncle, our Lord wills that the latter may have his 
blood to keep. He is to go to his grandfather. Perceval asks when he 
shall get there. " Before a year," is the answer. " 'Tis a long time." " Not 
so," says Merlin, who leaves him, and tells all to Blaise, from whose writing 
we know of it. (16) That same night Perceval comes to his grandfather's 
house, is received by the Fisher King, and as they sit at table the Grail 
appears, and the relics with it, and when Perceval sees it he asks to what 
use is the vessel put 1 Forthwith the King is cured, and his being changed. 
Perceval must say first who he is before learning such holy things. Upon 
learning it is his grandson before him, the King leads him to the Grail, and 
tells him with this lance Longis pierced the side of Jesus Christ, whom he 
knew in the flesh. In this vessel is the blood, Joseph caught as it ran to 
the ground. It is called Grail because it is agreeable to worthy men ; none 
may sin in its presence. Then Brons, kneeling, prays, and the voice of the 
Holy Ghost tells him the prophecy will be fulfilled ; and he is to teach 
Perceval the secret words our Lord on the cross told Joseph, and Joseph 
told him. He does, but I cannot and may not say what these words were. 
Then angels carry him off ; and Perceval remains, and the enchantments 
of Britain and of the whole world cease. And that same day Arthur and 
his knights sitting at the Round Table are aware of a great noise, and the 
seat is made whole again which had broken under Perceval. Merlin 
appears to Blaise, tells him his work is ended, and takes him to Perceval, 
who was right glad of his company. 

Epilogue. Merlin comes to Arthur's court and relates all that had taken 
place. The knights, finding the Quest of the Grail is over, and mindful 
of Merlin's former words, urge Arthur to invade the continent. He does 
so, overcomes Frollo, King of France ; refuses tribute to the Emperor of 
Borne, overcomes him, but is recalled to England on learning Mordret's 
treachery. The latter is slain ; but Arthur, wounded mortally, is carried 
to Avallon to be healed of Morguen, his sister. Lastly, Merlin tells 
Perceval how he will withdraw from the world, and be no more seen of 
men. And the tale says no more of Merlin and the Grail. 


The Mabinogi of Peredur ab Evrawc. Evrawc, Earl of the 
North, has seven sons, six of whom, like himself, fall in tournaments and 
combats. His wife carries off her youngest son, Peredur, to the desert, 
and forbids horses or arms being shown to him. He grows up strong 
and active, and can outrun his mother's goats and hinds. (1) One day 
he sees three knights passing Gwalchmai, the son of Gwyar, and Geneir 
Gwystyl, and Owain, the son of Urien. His mother declares them to 
be angels ; whereupon he determines to join them. He questions Owain 
concerning his accoutrements and the use of his weapons. His mother 
swoons away at the thought of his leaving her ; but he picks out a horse 
and saddles it. Before leaving, his mother counsels him to repeat his 
paternoster wherever he sees a church ; to take food and drink if 
none offer them ; to aid when any outcry is, especially a woman's ; if he 
sees a fair jewel' to take it and give it to another ; to pay his court to 
fair women whether they will or no. (2) After two days and nights 
Peredur comes to a tent, where he finds a damsel. Half of the food and 
drink she has he takes, half leaves to her ; asks her for her ring at leaving, 
which she gives him. Her lord returning, is jealous, and sets forth to 
avenge his supposed wrong. (3) Peredur journeys on to Arthur's court. 
A knight has been there before him, and grievously insulted Gwenhwy var 
by dashing a goblet of wine in her face, and carrying the goblet out, and 
has dared any to avenge the insult ; but all hang their heads. Peredur 
enters the hall and demands knighthood. On Kai's protesting he is too 
meanly equipped, a dwarf, who, with his female companion has been a year 
at Arthur's court without speaking, salutes him as the flower of knight- 
hood. Kai strikes him for this, and kicks the female dwarf, who repeats 
the salutation. Kai bids Peredur seek the knight and win back the 
goblet, then shall he have knighthood. Peredur does so, and slays the 
knight. Owain, who has followed, shows him how to undo the armour 
and to clad himself in it, and bids him back to Arthur. But Peredur 
refuses, he will not come back to the court till he Lave avenged the injury 
done by Kai to the dwarf and dwarf ess. (4) Peredur overcomes sixteen 
knights and sends them to Arthur with the same message. (5) Peredur 
comes to a castle by a lake, and sees a venerable man sitting by the lake 
and his attendant fishing, and the old man is lame. And Peredur enters 
the castle, and is practised in the use of weapons, and learns courtesy and 
noble bearing ; and the old man is his uncle his mother's brother. He 
is to leave his mother's habits and discourse, and if he sees aught to 
wonder at, not to ask the meaning of it. (6) Peredur leaves his uncle 
and comes to a castle where dwells a second uncle of his brother likewise 
of his mother. His strength is tested by his having to cut through an iron 
staple with a sword. Twice he does it and the broken pieces re-unite, but 
the third time neither would unite as before. He has arrived at two- 
thirds of his strength, and when he attains his full power none will be able 
to contend with him. Whilst talking, two youths enter the hall bearing 
a mighty spear with three streams of blood flowing from the point to the 


ground. All wail and lament ; but as Peredur is not vouchsafed the meaning 
of what he sees he forbears to ask concerning it. Then enter two maidens 
with a salver in which a man's head swims in blood. The outcry redoubles. 
Peredur retires to sleep. (7) On the morrow, with his uncle's permission, 
he rides forth, finds a beautiful woman lamenting over the corpse of a 
knight. She reveals herself as his foster-sister ; calls him accursed for 
causing his mother's death by leaving her ; and tells him it is her husband 
she mourns for, slain by the Knight of the Glade. Peredur meets the latter, 
overcomes him, and makes him take his foster-sister in marriage. (8) 
Peredur comes to a castle where are eighteen youths and five maidens, and 
he had never seen one of so fair an aspect as the chief of the maidens. A 
flask of wine and six loaves are brought by two nuns, and that must suffice 
for all. The youths press the maiden to offer herself to Peredur as his wife 
or lady love. She refuses ; but consents when they threaten leaving her 
to her enemies. She comes weeping to Peredur and relates how she is 
besieged by an earl who seeks her hand. She implores his aid, and offers 
to place herself in his hands. Peredur bids her go sleep, he will assist her, 
The next day he overthrows the master of the household of the earl. To 
save his life the latter must deliver up one-third of the besieged maiden's 
lands. The second day it fares the same with the earl's steward ; the third 
with the earl himself. Peredur thus wins back all his hostess' lands, and 
tarries with her three weeks ; but for her love he would not have stayed 
so long. (9) Peredur next meets the Lady of the Tent, ill-entreated of her 
husband concerning him. Him he overcomes, compels to acknowledge, her 
innocence, and sends both to Arthur. (10) Peredur comes to the castle of 
a tall and stately lady, who bids him escape from the sorceresses of Glouces- 
ter, who will attack the castle that night ; but he resolves to remain, and 
defends one of the watch when overtaken by a sorceress. The latter hails 
him by his name. She foreknows she is to suffer harm from him. If he will 
go with her he shall learn chivalry and the use of arms. Peredur consents 
on her promising to refrain from injuring the countess, and stays with her 
three weeks. (11) Peredur comes to a hermit's cell. In the morning it 
has snowed. A hawk has killed a fowl in front of the cell, but is scared 
away by Peredur's horse ; a raven has alighted on the bird. Peredur 
likens the blackness of the raven and the whiteness of the snow and the 
redness of the blood to the hair and the skin and the two red spots on the 
cheeks of the lady he loves best. Whilst thus lost in thought, Arthur and 
his household come up with him, but fail to recognise him. A youth 
accosts him, but receives no answer ; whereupon he thrusts at Peredur 
but is struck to the ground. Twenty-four youths essay the same, and are 
repulsed in like manner. Kai then comes and speaks angrily, but Peredur 
breaks his arms for him. Gwalchmai then approaches him courteously, 
learns his name, and brings him to Arthur, who does him honour. Thus 
all return to Caerlleon. (12) Peredur solicits the love of Angharad Law 
Eurawc. and when she denies him, vows to speak to no Christian till she 
loves him. (13) Peredur comes to the castle of a huge grey man, a heathen, 


after slaying a lion, his porter. The grey man's daughter warns him of 
her father, and at his request brings his horse and arms to his lodging. 
Peredur overcomes the vassals, and slays the sons of the grey man, and 
sends the whole household to Arthur to be baptized. (14) Peredur slays 
a serpent lying upon a gold ring, and wins the ring. For a long time he 
speaks to no Christian, and loses colour and aspect through longing for 
Arthur and his lady love. He returns to Arthur's court, but none know 
him, and he suffers Kai to thrust him through the thigh without his saying 
a word. He overcomes many knights, and at length Angharad Law Eurawc 
confesses her love for him. He remains at Arthur's court. (15) Peredur 
comes to the castle of a huge, black, one-eyed man. The latter's daughter 
warns him against her father. But Peredur stays, overcomes the latter, 
and learns how he lost his eye. On the Mound of Mourning is a cairn, in 
the cairn a serpent with a stone in its tail, the virtue whereof is to give as 
much gold to the possessor as he may desire. In fighting the serpent he 
had lost his eye. He directs Peredur to the serpent, and is slain by him. 
Peredur refuses the love of the maidens of the castle, and rides forth. (16) 
He comes to the palace of the son of the King of the Tortures. Every 
day the Addanc of the Lake slays them. Whilst at discourse a charger 
enters the hall with a corpse in the saddle. They anoint the corpse with 
warm water and balsam, and it comes to life. The same happens 
with two other youths. The morrow they ride forth anew against the 
Addanc, refusing Peredur, who would go with them ; but he follows and 
finds seated on a mound the fairest lady, who, if he will pledge her his love, 
will give him a stone by which he may see the Addanc and be unseen of 
it. He promises, and she gives him the stone, telling him to seek her in 
India. Peredur passes through a valley wherein is a flock of white sheep, 
and one of black, and when they cross the river flowing through the valley 
they change colour. He learns of their shepherd the way to the Addanc's 
cave, slays it, meets his three companions of the night before, who tell him it 
was predicted that he should slay the monster, offers them its head, refuses 
their sister whom they proffer him in marriage ; accepts the services of a 
youth, Etlym Gleddy v Coch, who wishes to become his attendant, and rides 
forth. (17) He comes to the court of the Countess of Achievements, over- 
throws her three hundred knights ; but learning she loves Etlym resigns 
her to him. (18) Peredur, accompanied by Etlym, comes to the Mound 
of Mourning, slays two out of the three hundred knights he finds guarding 
the serpent, slays the latter, repays the remaining hundred knights all 
they have spent, gives Etlym the stone and sends him back to his love. 
(19) Peredur comes to a valley wherein are many coloured tents, lodges 
with a miller, from whom he borrows food and lodging, and learns that a 
tournament is forward. He overcomes all the knights present, and sends 
their horses and arms to the miller as repayment. The Empress of the 
Tournament sends for him, he repels her messengers thrice, the fourth time 
he yields. She reveals herself as the lady who had helped him against 
the Addanc, and she entertains him for fourteen years. (20) Arthur 

D 2 


is at Caerlleon-upon-Usk, with him his knights, and among them 
Peredur. There enters, riding upon a yellow mule, a maiden of hideous 
aspect. She greets all save Peredur, to whom she reproaches his silence 
at the court of the Lame King ; had he asked the meaning of the streaming 
spear and of the other wonders the King would have regained health and 
the dominions peace all his misfortunes are due to Peredur. She then 
tells of a castle where are five hundred and seventy knights, each with the 
lady he loves best there may fame be acquired ; and of a castle on a lofty 
mountain where a maiden is detained prisoner, whoso should deliver her 
should attain the summit of the fame of the world. Gwalchmai sets forth 
to release the imprisoned maiden, Peredur to enquire the meaning of the 
bleeding lance. Before they leave a knight enters and defies Gwalchmai to 
single combat, for that he had slain his lord by treachery. (21) Gwalchmai 
meets a knight who directs him to his own castle, where he is welcomed by 
his sister. The steward of the castle accuses him to the knight of being the 
slayer of his, the knight's, father. Gwalchmai demands a year to acknow- 
ledge or deny the accusation. (22) Peredur, who, seeking tidings of the 
black maiden, but finding none, has wandered over the whole island, meets 
a priest who chides him for being in armour on Good Friday. Peredur 
dismounts, asks the priest's blessing, and learns of a castle where he may 
gain tidings of the Castle of Wonders. (23) Peredur proceeds thither, and 
meets the King of the castle, who commends him to his daughter, by whom 
he is well received. A little yellow page accuses him to the King of win- 
ning his daughter's love, and advises that he should be thrown into prison. 
But the damsel befriends him, and assists him to take part in a tournament, 
where, for three days, he overthrows all opponents. The King at last 
recognises him, and offers him his daughter ; but he refuses and sets forth 
for the Castle of Wonders. (24) On arriving there he finds the door open, 
and in the hall a chessboard and chessmen playing by themselves. He 
favours one side which loses, whereupon he casts the chessboard in the 
lake. The black maiden comes in and reproaches him he may find the 
chessboard again at the Castle of Ysbidinongyl, where a black man lays 
waste the dominions of the Empress. Him Peredur overcomes, but spares 
his life ; this the black maiden chides him for, and he slays him ; but the 
black maiden still refuses him access to the Empress unless he can slay a 
stag, swift as the swiftest bird, with one sharp horn in his forehead. She 
gives him a little dog belonging to the Empress which will rouse the stag. 
With its aid he slays the latter, but a lady, riding by, carries off the dog, 
and chides him for slaying the stag. He can only win her friendship by 
going to a cromlech which is in a grove, and challenging to fight three 
times a man who dwells there. Peredur complies, and fights with a black 
man clad in i"isty armour ; but when he dismounts his adversary dis- 
appears. (25) Peredur, riding on, comes to a castle where sits a lame 
grey-headed man, and Gwalchmai by him. A youth enters the hall and 
beseeches Peredur's friendship he had been the black maiden who came 
to Arthur's court, and who had chid Peredur concerning the chessboard ; 


he was the youth who came with the bloody head in the salver, and the 
head was that of Peredur's cousin slain by the sorceresses of Gloucester, who 
also lamed Peredur's "uncle, and he, the speaker, was Peredur's cousin. 
Peredur seeks aid of Arthur, and they start against the sorceresses. One 
of the latter slays three of Arthur's men ; whereupon Peredur smites her, 
and she flees, exclaiming this was Peredur, who had learnt chivalry of them, 
their destined slayer. She and all her companions are slain. Thus is it 
related concerning the Castle of Wonders. 

The Thornton MS. Sir Perceval. (1) PERCYVELLE is son of 
Percyvelle and Acheflour, Arthur's sister. His father is slain in a 
tournament by the Red Knight whom he had previously overcome in a 
former tournament. His mother takes to the woods, brings up her 
son without instruction till he is fifteen years, when she teaches him to 
pray to God. (2) He then meets with three knights of Arthur's court 
Ewayne, Gawayue, and Kay. He takes them for gods. Learning that 
they are knights, he determines to go to Arthur's court and become 
a knight himself, catches a wild horse, and, returning to his mother, 
announces his attention. She counsels him to be always of measure, to 
salute knights when he meets them, and at his departure gives him a ring 
for token. (3) He sets forth, and finding on his way a house makes him- 
self free of it, eats, drinks, and finding a lady sleeping on a bed takes from 
her her ring, leaving his mother's in its place. (4) Coming to Arthur's 
hall he rides into it and up to the King so that his mare kisses Arthur's 
forehead. He demands knighthood at Arthur's hands, threatening to slay 
him if refused. Arthur sees the likeness to his father, laments over the 
latter's untimely fate, and recalls that books say the son should avenge the 
father's bane. Percyvelle bids him let be his jangling and dub him knight. 
Whilst sitting down to table the Red Knight comes in, carries oft' Arthur's 
cup (five years long had he done so) none daring to hinder him. At the 
King's lament Percyvelle engages to slay the Eed Knight, and bring the 
cup back if knighthood be granted him. The King promises, Percyvelle 
follows the ravisher, who scorns him, but is slain by a dart flung at 
him. He captures the knight's steed, and not being able otherwise to 
remove his armour, and recalling his mother's injunction " out of the iron 
burn the tree " kindles a fire to burn the body. Gawayne, who has 
followed him, shows him how to unlace the armour ; when that is removed 
Percyvelle casts the body into the fire to roast. He refuses to return to 
Arthur, looking upon himself as great a lord as the King, but sends the 
cup back through Gawayne and rides on. (5) He meets an old witch, 
mother to the Eed Knight, who addresses him as her son ; her he spears 
and casts into the fire. (6) He meets ten knights, who flee, taking him 
for the Red Knight, but on his raising his vizor the oldest knight, reassured, 
relates how the Red Knight bore him and his sons enmity, and how, 
fifteen years before, he had slain his brother. Learning that Percyvelle 
had burnt his enemy, he invites him to his castle. (7) Whilst at meat a 


messenger comes in from the Maiden-land begging help from the Lady 
Luf amour against a " Sowdane," who would have her to wife. Percy velle 
starts forth with three of the old knight's sons, whom, however, he sends 
back each after a mile. Meanwhile, the King at Carebedd, mourning for 
Percy velle, receives Luf amour's messages, gains from him tidings of Percy- 
velle, and sets forth with his court to follow him. Percy velle, coming to 
the Sowdaue's camp, is set upon by the guard, but slays them all, and then 
lays him down to rest under the castle wall. In the morning Lufamour's 
men make her aware of the slaughter wrought upon her enemies. She 
perceives Percyvelle and sends her chamberlain, Hatlayne, to bid him to 
her chamber. Whilst at table together tidings are brought that the enemy 
have nearly taken the town. Percyvelle sallies forth alone and soon leaves 
not one alive. He is then ware of four knights Arthur, Ewayne, Gawayne, 
Kay. He pricks against them and Gawayne receives his onslaught. They 
recognise each other, and all proceed to Lufamour's castle. The next day 
the Sowdane challenges all comers ; Percyvelle, dubbed knight by Arthur, 
slays him, and thereafter weds Luf amour. (8) After a year he thinks on 
his mother's loneliness, and sets forth to seek her. Hearing a damsel 
lamenting in the wood, he finds her bound to a tree, for that a year before, 
while sleeping, a stranger had robbed her of a ring leaving his own in its 
stead. Now her ring was of a stone of such virtue that neither death nor 
hurt could come to the wearer. He releases her, overcomes the Black 
Knight who had bound her, reconciles them and claims his own ring for 
the ring he had taken. But the Black Knight has given it to the lord of 
the land a giant. (9) Percyvelle slays the giant, and claims the ring of 
the porter. The latter tells him how his master, loving a fair lady, had 
offered her that same ring, but she, exclaiming that he had killed her son, 
rushed into the forest and was since then bereft of her senses. Percyvelle 
puts on a goat's skin, and after nine days search finds her. A magic 
drink of the giant's throws her into a three days' sleep, after which, restored 
to her right mind, she goes home with her son. He afterwards goes to 
the Holy Land, and is there slain. 

The Queste del Saint Graal [Furnivall's text (F.) has been 

taken as the basis of the present summary. Words and passages not found 
in the Welsh translation ( W) are italicised ; words or passages found in the 
Welsh translation instead of those in Furnivall are in parentheses. The 
variants from Birch-Hirschfeld?s Summary (B.H.) are given in the notes.] 

(1) On Whitsun Eve the companions of the Bound Table being assem- 
bled at Camelot, a damsel (youth) comes in great haste, asks for Lancelot 
and bids him. from King Pelles (for the sake of whatever he loved most) 
accompany her to the forest. Notwithstanding Guinevere's opposition 
he does so, and comes to a nunnery where he finds his two cousins, 
Boort and Lionel. Three nuns then bring Galahad, a child the like of 
whom might scarce be found in the world ; one asks Lancelot to knight 
him, he consents, and on the morrow Lancelot and his companions return to 


Camelot ; his cousins think the child must be Lancelot's son, but Lancelot 
answers no word. (2) At the Round Table the seat of each knight is 
marked, but on the Seat Perillous it is written ih&tfour hundred and fifty - 
four (four hundred and fifty) years have passed since the Lord's Passion, and 
that on this Whitsun Day the seat shall find its master. Lancelot covers 
these words, and, whilst at Kay's reminding, the court awaits an adventure 
before sitting down to meat, a youth tells them of a stone floating on the 
water. It is a block of red marble, in which sticks a sword, and upon it 
written that none may draw the sword save the best knight in the world. 
Lancelot declares that the wonders of the Holy Grail are about to begin, 
and refuses to essay the adventure ; Gawain, Perceval, and others try, but 
fail ; they then sit down to table served by twelve kings ; an old man 
enters, leading a knight in vermeil armour, whom he proclaims the desired 
knight, of the seed of David and kin of Joseph of Arimathea, who shall 
achieve the adventures of the Holy Grail. He draws near the Seat 
Perillous, on which is now written, "This is Galahad's seat," sits himself 
therein, dismisses the old man, and bids him greet, " My uncle, King Pelles, 
and my grandfather, the rich fisher."* (3) Great honour is done to the new 
knight, whom Lancelot recognises as his son, and Bors and Lionel as the 
youth begot by Lancelot upon the daughter of the Fisher King (King Pelles). 
The Queen is told that the knight is come, and her ladies say he shall end the 
wonders of Great Britain, and through him the Maimed King shall be healed. 
Galahad is then urged by Arthur to essay the adventure of the sword, 
consents, easily draws out the sword, and asks for a shield. (4) A damsel 
appears, weeps for Lancelot as having lost his place as the best knight ii 
the world, and tells the King from Nascieiis, the hermit, that on that day he 
would send the Holy Grail to feed the companions of the Bound Table. 
A tournament is ordered, in which Galahad is held the best, as he over- 
throws all save Lancelot and Perceval. After vespers the court sits down 
to table, a clap of thunder is heard, followed by the brightest of sunbeams, 
so that all are as if lighted by the Holy Ghost. None know whence the 
light comes, and none has power to say a word. The Holy Grail enters, 
covered with white samite, but none may see who carries it ; the hall is 
filled with sweet odours, and as the Grail passes along the tables each seat 
is filled with such meat as each one longs for. Then it departs, none may 
say how, and those can now speak who before could say no word. 
(5) All return thanks to God for the grace vouchsafed them, and Gawain 
tells them that heretofore no man had been served with whatever he 
might desire savs at the Maimed King's (at the court of King Peleur). But 
they could not behold the Grail openly, and Gawain declares he will go on 
q uest of it for a year and a day. The knights of the Bound Table make a 
like vow. Arthur is much distressed, as he knows many will die on the 
quest. The Queen and her ladies weep likewise, and propose to join their 

* Birch-Hirschfeld, in his Summary (p. 37, 1. 22) or his MS. authority, 
B.M., xix, E. iii., has transposed the relationships. 


knights, but an old priest tells them from Nasciens, the hermit, that no 
knigt.t entering on the quest of the Holy Grail is to have with him his 
lady or damsel the quest is no earthly one. On the morrow, at King 
Bandamagus' suggestion, all the questers, Galahad first, swear to maintain 
the quest for a year and a day and longer if need be. After the Queen 
has taken leave of Lancelot, and Arthur has vainly tried to force a shield 
on Galahad, the questers set off together and pass the first night at Vagan's 
Castle. On the morrow they ride forth and separate. (6) After five days 
Galahad comes to an abbey where he find King Bandamagus and Ywain 
"li aoutres." The abbey contains a shield which no knight save the 
destined one may take and go unslain or unhurt. King Bandamagus 
would take it, but is overthrown by a White Knight ; Galahad then takes 
it, and his right to do so is admitted by the White Knight, who tells him as 
follows concerning it ; Forty-three years after our Lord's Passion, Joseph 
of Arimathea, who took our Lord's body down from the Cross,' 55 ' came to 
the city Sarras, where dwelt King Evelac, then a Saracen, who was at 
war with his neighbour, Tholomes. Josephes, Joseph's son, warned Evelac 
against going forth to battle unprepared, and, in answer to the King's 
questions what he should do, told him of the new law and Gospel truth 
and the Saviour's death, and fixed on his shield a cross of sandal. He was 
to uncover this on the fourth day's fighting, and to call on the Lord. 
When he did so he beheld a bleeding, crucified figure. He won the battle, 
and on his telling the story his brother-in-law, Nasciens, received baptism. 
The shield then restored to a man his lost hand. Evelac was baptized, 
and guarded the shield in lordly fashion. Josephes came with his father to 
Great Britain, where King Crudel threw them with many other Christians 
into prison. Mordrainsf and Nasciens than invaded Great Britain, released 
Josephes and remained with him in the land, When Josephes was on his 
deathbed, and Evelac asked him for a remembrance, then he bade King 
Mordrains bring his shield, and with the blood streaming from his nose 
marked on it a cross ; this would always remain red, and no knight should 
with impunity unhang the shield till Galahad should come, last of Nasciens' 
line. Where Nasciens lay buried, there the shield was to be kept. (7) 
Galahad draws near a tomb in the abbey graveyard, whence issues a voice 
telling him not to approach and drive it out. But he does so, and a smoke 
in man's form comes out ; on opening the tomb a dead knight's body is 
found lying therein, this is cast out. These things are a symbol: the hard 
tombstone signifies the hard-heartedness of the world (the hardship which 

* And buried it, adds B. H. in his Summary, whether on MS. authority or 
not I cannot say, but the Welsh translation has " there was a period of 240 
years " (an obvious mistake on the part of the translator) " after the passion of 
J. C. when Jos. of A. came ; he who buried J. C. and drew him down from the 

f Thus was Evelach called as a Christian, adds B. H. Here W. agrees with 


Jesus Christ had in this world) ;* the dead body those dead in sin, and 
as in Christ's time when they slew Him and were harried out of their 
land by Vespasian as a punishment ; the smoke was a devil who fled 
from Galahad because he was a virgin. (8) On the morrow Galahad 
rides forth accompanied by Melians, a youth who had begged to be 
allowed to serve him, and whom he had knighted. They separate at a 
cross road, Melians takes the left hand road in spite of warning, comes to a 
tent where hangs a golden crown, seizes it, meets a strange knight who 
overthrows and had slain him but for Galahad coming to the rescue and 
overcoming first one, then a second assailant. Melians is taken to an 
abbey to be tended, and learns that the two knights who almost overpowered 
him were his pride in taking the left hand path, his covetousness in 
carrying off the crown of gold. (9) Galahad enters a hermitage to pray 
there, and hears a voice bidding him proceed to the Castle of Maidens and 
rid it of its bad customs. He encounters on the way seven knights whom 
he must overcome, such was the custom of the castle. He forces them to 
flight, and an old priest brings him the keys of the castle. He finds 
therein numberless maidens, and learns that the former lord of the castle 
had been, with his son, slain by the seven knights, who had striven before- 
hand to carry off his daughter. She foretold that as they had gained the 
castle for a maiden's sake, they would lose it through a maiden, and be over- 
come by a single knight, whereupon they determined to make prisoner 
every maiden passing that way. Galahad delivers the captives, and puts 
a daughter of the former duke in possession of the castle. He learns then 
that the seven brothers have been slain by Gawain, Gheriot, and Ywain. 
(10) The story now returns to Gawain. He passes by the abbey where 
Galahad found the shield, then that where Melians lay ill, is reproached 
by a friar with being too sinful to be with Galahad, meets Gheheries, his 
brother, meets Ywaiii on the morrow, meets the seven brothers who attack 
them and are slain ; then Gawain comes alone to a hermitage, confesses for 
the first time since fourteen years, is admonished by the hermit, learns 
that the Castle of Maidens signifies hell, the captives the good souls 
wrongfully therein confined before Christ's coming, the seven knights the 
seven sins. Gawain is pressed, but vainly, to make penitence. (11) The 
story returns to Galahad. After wandering for awhile without adventures 
he meets Lancelot and Perceval. They do not recognise him, not knowing 
his arms (shield),! and attack him. He overcomes them, but learning 
from the words of a recluse, who sees the combat, that she really knows 
him, and, fearing recognition, he hurries oft'.J (12) Perceval stays with 
the recluse, and Lancelot starts in pursuit of the Unknown Knight. 

* Here Birch-Hirschfeld's Summary agrees with W. 
f B. H. agrees with W. 

I According to B. H., the recluse tells him he lias fought with his friends, 
whereupon, ashamed, he hurries off. 


He comes in the night to a stone cross near which stands (an old)* 
chapel. He dismounts and enters, but an iron rail hinders his pro- 
gress ; through it he sees an altar whereon burn seven candles (a silver 
candlestick, a wax taper). f He leaves the chapel, unsaddles his horse, 
and lies down to sleep by the cross. Then comes a sick knight on a 
bier drawn by two horses, dolourously lamenting. He looks at Lancelot, 
but says no word, thinking him asleep, nor does Lancelot say aught, but 
remains half asleep. And the sick knight laments, " When may I have 
solace from the holy vessel for the pain I suffer for such a small fault (was 
ever so much pain as is upon me who have done no evil at all) ? But 
Lancelot says no word, nor when the candlestick comes towards the 
cross and the Holy Grail approaches the sick knight, who prays he may 
be made whole to join likewise the quest. Then crawling to the table 
whereon the vessel stands, and touching his eyes with (kissing) it, feels 
relief and slumbers. The Grail disappears and Lancelot still says never a 
word, for which af tertimes much mischance was his. The sick knight arises 
well, a squire appears and arms him (with Lancelot's sword and helm), 
and brings him Lancelot's steed, and the knight swears never to rest till 
he knows why the Holy Grail appears in so many places of the Kingdom 
of Logres, and by whom it was brought to England. So he departs, and 
his squire carries off Lancelot's armour. Lancelot awakes wondering 
whether what he has seen be dream or truth. And he hears a voice 
saying harder than stone, bitterer than wood, more despised than the 
fig tree he must away, not pollute the spot where is the Holy Grail. He 
wanders forth weeping, comes to a hermit, confesses his great sin, his love 
for Guinevere, is admonished to tear it from his heart, when there may 
still be hope for him. Lancelot promises, and has the adventure at the 
chapel explained to him, and stays with the hermit for penance and instruc- 
tion. (13) The story now returns to Perceval. The recluse orders he be 
well taken care of, she loves him well, he is her nephew. She dissuades 
him from fighting Galahad as he wishes, does he wish to die and be killed 
as his brothers for their outrages (in their combats and tournaments) ? He 
and Galahad and Bors will achieve the Quest. She is his aunt, formerly 
Queen of the Waste Land. He asks about his mother whom he fears he has 
badly treated, and learns she died when he went to Arthur's court. \\ He asks 
further concerning the knight with the red arms, and is told as follows : 
Since Christ's coming were three chief tables ; first, the table at which 
Christ often ate with his Apostles ; second, the table of the Holy Grail, 
established in semblance and remembrance of the first, by which so many 

* B. H. here agrees with W. 
f B. H. has five candles. 

J B. H. : "When will the Holy Vessel come to still the pain I feel? Never 
suffered man as I." 

B. H. agrees with W. 

|| B. H. agrees with Furnivall. 


miracles were wrought in this land in the time of Joseph of Arimathea, 
in the beginning when Christianity was brought to this country. He came 
with four thousand poor companions. One day, wandering in a forest, 
they had nothing to eat, but an old woman brought twelve (ten) loaves, 
these they bought and they were wroth with one another when they came 
to divide them. Joseph angry, took the twelve loaves, made the people sit, 
and by virtue of the Holy Grail multiplied the loaves to their need. At 
that table was a seat where Josephes, son of Joseph, might sit, but none 
other, for, as the history tells, the place was blessed by our Lord himself. 
Now two brothers, relatives of Josephes, envied him his leadership, saying 
they were of as good seed as he, and one sat in Josephes' seat, and was 
straightway swallowed up by the earth, whence the seat was called the 
Dreaded Seat. Last came the Bound Table, made by Merlin's counsel, to 
show the roundness of the world and of the firmament. And Merlin 
foretold that by companions of this table should the truth of the Grail be 
known, and that three should achieve it, two virgins and one chaste, 
and the one should surpass his father as man surpasses wolf, and he 
should be master, and for him Merlin made a great and wonderful seat, 
wherein none might sit unharmed save he, and it was known as the Seat 
Perillous. And as at Whitsuntide the Holy Spirit came to the Apostles 
in guise of fire, so at Whitsuntide Galahad came clad in red armour. And 
on the day he came the questing for the Grail began, which might not 
cease till the truth concerning it and the lance was known. To find 
Galahad, Perceval must first try Castle Gher (Goth) where dwells a cousin 
of Galahad, and then Castle Corbenic where dwells the Maimed King. (14) 
His aunt then tells how after that her husband fell in war against King 
Laban she withdrew into that wild place. And her son went to serve 
King Pelles, their relative, and since two years she only knows of him 
that he is following tournaments throughout Great Britain. (15) On the 
morrow Perceval comes to a monastery, and seeing mass being performed 
would enter but cannot, and sees a sick bed with a man or woman lying 
on it, whom, as he rises when the body of our Lord is raised, he sees to be 
an old man crowned, with his body full of wounds and crying out, " Father, 
forget me not." He seems as if he were over four hundred (one hundred 
and four) years old. Perceval asks concerning these wonders, and is told 
as follows : When Joseph of Arimathea came to this land, the Saracen, 
King Crudel, hearing of the Grail by which he lived, threw him and his 
son Josephes and some hundred others into prison for forty days, and 
forbade food to be given them. But they had the holy vessel with 
them. When Mordrains and his brother-in-law, Seraphe, heard these 
things, they assembled their host, landed in. Britain, overcame Crudel, 
and freed Joseph. On the morrow Evelac, as he was called before he 
became Christian, desired to see the Holy Grail plainly, and though 
warned to desist pressed forward to do so, and was struck blind and 
helpless. He accepted his punishment submissively, but only prayed 
to Christ that he might survive till the good knight should come, the 


best* of his seed (the knight who is to achieve the adventures of the 
Holy Grail). A voice answered his prayer should be granted, and then 
he should receive the light of his eyes and his wounds should be made 
whole. This happened four hundred (one hundred and four) years before, 
and it was that King Evelac whom Perceval had seen, and during that 
while he had fed on nought else save the Lord's body. (16) Perceval 
riding forth on the morrow is attacked by twenty knights, sore pressed, 
and only rescued by the Red Knight's help, who then disappears. (17) 
Perceval, having lost his horse, asks one vainly from a passing squire, from 
whom it is shortly afterwards carried off by another knight, whom 
Perceval, mounted on the squire's cob, attacks but is overthrown. (18) 
At night a woman appears and offers him a horse if he will do her will 
she is, in truth, the enemy. He agrees, she mounts him, he comes 
to a river, and, before essaying to ford it, makes the sign of the cross, 
whereupon the horse rushes howling into the water. (19) Perceval, 
rescued from this peril, finds himself on a wild island mountain, full of 
savage beasts ; he helps a lion against a snake and wins its service. He 
is ill at ease on his island, but he trusts God, and is not like those men of 
Wales where sons pull their fathers out of bed and kill them to save the 
disgrace of their dying in bed. (20) That night, sleeping by the lion's 
side, Perceval dreams of two women visiting him, one mounted on a lion, 
the second on a serpent ; this one reproaches him for killing the serpent. 
On the morrow an old man comes ship-borne, comforts Perceval with good 
counsel, and interprets his dream : the dame on the lion was Christ's new 
law, she on the serpent the old law. (21) A damsel then appears, warns 
Perceval against the old man, prepares for him a rich banquet with good 
wine, not British, as in Great Britain they only drink cervoise and other 
home-made drinks, and excites his passion. He is on the point of yielding, 
but seeing the cross-handled pommel of his sword crosses himself, and the 
damsel disappears in flames. Perceval pierces his thigh with his sword in 
his contrition. The old man reappears, exhorts, explains the various 
features of his temptation, and finally takes him away with him in his 
ship. (22) The story now returns to Lancelot. After three exhortations 
from the hermit he sets forth, and first meets a servant, who assails him 
bitterly as an unfaithful traitorous knight, in that having openly seen the 
Holy Grail doing its wonders before him, he yet moved not from his seat. 
(23) He comes to a hermit's hut and finds the hermit lamenting over the 
dead body of his companion, who, at his nephew, Agaran's, request, had left 
the hermitage to aid him against his enemies, and had been treacherously 
slain by the latter. These things are told by a devil, which had entered 
into the dead hermit's body. Lancelot is admonished at great length, 
receives stripes, puts on the dead hermit's hair shirt, and finally leaves with 
the advice that he should confess every week. (24) He meets a damsel 
who encourages him, but tells him he will find no lodging for the night. 

* B. H., the ninth. 


He dismounts at the foot of a cross at the cross-ways, and has a vision of a 
man surrounded with stars, crowned and accompanied by seven Kings and 
two knights, who pray to be taken to heaven; a man descending from heaven 
orders one of the knights away, whilst to the other he gives the shape of a 
winged lion, so that he flies up to heaven and is admitted.* (25) Lancelot 
meets the knight who had carried off his arms, and who attacks, but is 
overthrown by him. (26) He comes to a hermitage, confesses, tells his vision, 
and learns that it has a great meaning in respect of his lineage, which must be 
expounded at much length: forty-two years after the Passion of Christ, 
Joseph of Arimathea left Jerusalem, came to Sarras, helped Evelac, who 
received baptism at the hands of Josephes, together with his brother-in-law, 
Seraphe (who took the name Nasciens}, and who became a pillar of the holy 
faith, so that the great secrets of the Holy Grail were opened to him, which 
none but Joseph had beheld before, and no knight after save in dream. Now 
Evelac dreamed that out of his nephew, son of Nasciens, came forth a great 
lake, whence issued nine streams, eight of tJie same size, and the last greater 
th r in all the rest put together ; our Lord came and washed in the lake which 
King Mordrains thus saw flowing from Celidoinds belly. This Celidoine 
was the man surrounded by stars in Lancelot's vision, and this because he 
knew the course of the stars and the manner of the planets, and he was first 
King of Scotland, and the nine streams were his nine descendants, of whom 
seven Kings and two knights: first, Warpus ; second, Chrestiens ;-\- third, 
Alain li Gros ; fourth, Helyas ; fifth, Jonaans, who went to Wales and there 
took to wife King Moroneus' daughter ; sixth, Lancelot, who had the King of 
Ireland's daughter to wife ; seventh, Bans. These were the seven Kings who 
appeared to Lancelot. The eighth stream was Lancelot himself, the elder of 
the knights of the vision. The ninth stream was Galahad, begot by Lancelot 
upon the Fisher King's daughter, lion-like in power, deepest of all the streams.% 
(27) Lancelot comes to a castle with a meadow before it, whereon a throng 
of black armoured knights is tourneying against knights in white armour. 
Lancelot goes to the help of the former, but is captured, and on being 
released rides off lamenting. At night, as he sleeps, a man comes from 
heaven and reproaches him with his ill faith. A hermitess expounds the 
allegorical meaning of the adventure. The white knights are those of 
Eliezer, son of King Pelles, the black those of Argastes, son of King 
Helain ; this symbolised the Quest, which was a tournament between the 
heavenly knights and the earthly ones, and in that Quest none might enter 
who was black with sin ; and Lancelot though sinful, having entered 
thereon had joined the black knights, and his capture by the others was 

* B. H., the vision is that of a crowned old man, who with two knights 
worships the cross. 

f B. H., Nasciens. 

J B. H. has all this passage, save that the references to the vision at the 
cross -ways seem omitted. 

B/H., the latter. 


his overthrow by Galahad, and his lamentation his return to sin, and it 
was our Lord who reproached him in his vision ; let him not depart from 
truth. (28) Lancelot comes to Lake Marchoise, is attacked by a knight 
in black armour, who kills his horse and rides off ; he lays down on the 
shore and awaits trustfully God's help. (29) The story returns to Gawain. 
After journeying many days adventureless, he meets Hector de Mares. 
Neither has heard aught of Lancelot, Galahad, or Bohors. Travelling 
together they come to a deserted cbapel, where, passing the night, Gawain 
dreams he sees in a meadow one hundred and fifty bulls all spotted, save 
three, one being dingy, the two others being pure white. Of the one 
hundred and forty-seven who set off to find better pasture many die and 
some return, of the three one returns, but two remain between whom strife 
arises and they separate. Hector dreams that he and Lancelot, being 
companions, are attacked by a man who knocks Lancelot off his horse and 
sits him on an ass, after which Lancelot, coming to a fair fountain, would 
drink of it, but it vanishes ; he, Hector, keeping his horse comes to a castle, 
the lord of which refuses him admission for that he is too high mounted. 
Whilst telling one another their dreams, a hand with a taper appears and 
vanishes, and a voice tells them that, poor of belief as they are, they cannot 
attain the Holy Grail. On their way to find a hermit who may explain 
these wonders, Gawain is attacked by and kills a knight, Y wains the 
Adulterer, son of King Urien. They then come to the hermit, Nasciens, who 
explains the bulls as the companions of the Round Table, the spotted ones 
those stained by sin, the three unspotted ones are the achievers, two white, 
virgins Galahad and Perceval one dingy, having once sinned carnally, 
Bors. The last part of the dream may not be explained, as evil might 
come of it. In Hector's dream the two horses are Pride and Ostentation. 
Lancelot's being seated on an ass signifies the putting off of pride, the 
fountain is the Holy Grail. Both knights are too full of sin to continue in 
the quest of the Grail. They ride forth and meet with no adventure 
worth notice. (30) The story returns to Bors. After first coming to a 
hermit, who exhorts him to abandon the Quest if he do not feel himself 
free from sin, to whom he confesses, from whom he receives absolution, 
and to whom he vows to eat nought save bread and water till the Quest be 
achieved, he comes to a castle whose mistress is sore oppressed by her sister, 
against whose champion, Priadam the Black, she has vainly sought a 
defender. Bors promises to come to help. He passes the night at the 
castle and will not sleep in the rich bed she offers him, though in the 
morning he tumbles it as if he had lain in it. He overcomes Priadam, and 
reinstates the lady in her lordship. (31) On the morrow he meets his 
brother, naked, bound on a hack, being beaten with thorns by two knights. 
At the same moment passes a very fair maiden being carried off by a knight, 
and she cries to him for help. He is in anguish, but goes to the maiden's 
help, wounds her would-be ravisher, and restores her to her friends. (32) He 
then hurries after his brother, but meets a seeming monk who makes him 
believe his brother is dead, and gives him an explanation of dreams he has 


had. He then comes to a tower and is welcomed by its inmates. A 
damsel offers him her love, and when he refuses threatens with twelve other 
damsels to throw herself from the tower. Bors is full of pity, but thinks 
they had better lose their souls than he his. They fall from the tower, Bors 
crosses himself, and the whole vanishes, being a deceit of the devil. His 
brother's corpse that had been shown him is also gone. (33) On the morrow 
he comes to an abbey, where he learns that his brother lives, and where all his 
dreams and adventures are allegorically explained. He then meets Lionel, 
his brother, who reproaches him bitterly for his conduct, and falls upon him 
with intent to kill. First a hermit, then a passing knight, Calogrenant, 
would stop him, but he slays both. Bors is at length, in spite of prayers 
and entreaties, compelled to draw in self defence, but a voice tells him to 
flee, and a fiery brand comes from heaven between them. Bors follows the 
command of the voice directing him towards the sea, where Perceval awaits 
him. He comes to a ship covered with white samite, and finds therein 
Perceval, who at first does not know him again, and who tells him all that 
he has passed through. (34) The story returns to Galahad. After count- 
less adventures he finds himself one day opposed to Gawain and Hector de 
Mares in a tournament ; he deals the former such a blow as knocks him 
out of his saddle. (35) He is brought to the ship wherein are Perceval 
and Bors by a damsel, who accompanies them until, fourteen days' sail 
from Logres, they come to a desert isle off which is another ship, on which is 
written* that those who would enter should see they were full of faith. 
The damsel then tells Perceval she is his sister, daughter of King Pdlehem. 
They enter the ship and find a rich bed with a crown at its head, and at 
its foot a sword six inches out of the scabbard, its tip a stone of all the 
colours in the world, its handle of the bones of two beasts, the serpent 
Papagast, the fish Orteniaus ; it is covered with a cloth whereon is written 
that only the first of his line would grasp the sword. Perceval and Bora 
both essay vainly. Galahad, on being asked, sees written on the blade 
that he only should draw who could strike better than others. The 
damsel tells the story of the sword as follows : When the ship came to 
the Kingdom of Logres there was war between King Lambar, father to the 
Maimed King, and King Urlain, heretofore Saracen, but newly baptised. 
Once Urlain, discomfited, fled to the ship, and, finding therein the sword, 
drew it and slew King Labanf with it, and that was the first blow struck 
with the sword in the Kingdom of Logres, and there came from it such 
pestilence and destruction in the land of the two kingdoms that it was 
afterwards called the Waste Land. When Urlain re-entered the ship he 
fell down dead. (36) Galahad, further examining the sword, finds the 
scabbard of serpent's skin, but the hangings of poor stuff. On the scabbard 
is written that the wearer must surpass his fellows, and the hangings be 
changed only by a King's daughter and she a maid ; on turning the sword 

* B. H., in Chaldee. 

f B. H., Labran slays Urban. 


over, the other side is found black as pitch, and bearing words that he who 
should praise it most should blame it most in his greatest need. Perceval's 
sister explains this as follows : Forty years after our Lord's Passion, 
Nasciens, Mordrains' brother-in-law, came to the Turning Isle, and found 
this ship, and therein bed and sword, this last he coveted, but had not the 
hardihood to draw it, though he stayed eight days food and drinkless 
longing for it ; on the ninth day a tempest drove him to another island, 
where, assailed by a giant, he drew the sword, and though it snapped in 
two and thus fulfilled the inscription, yet he overcame the giant. He 
afterwards met Mordrains and told him of these wonders ; Mordrains 
reunited the fragments, then, in obedience to a voice, they left the ship, 
but in going Nasciens was wounded for having dared to draw a sword of 
which he was not worthy, thus he who praised it most had most reason to 
blame it. As for the other words, King Pelles* called the Maimed King (a 
lame King who was my, i.e., the damsel's, uncle) once came to this ship on 
the shore of the sea over against Ireland, and entering it found the sword, 
drew but was wounded through the thighs by a lance, mid might not be 
healed till Galahad corned (37) They then examine the bed and find it 
has three spindles ; that in front, snow white ; that behind, blood red ; 
that above, emerald green, and lest this be thought a lie the story turns 
from its straight path to explain about these spindles. After Eve, yielding 
to the devil's advice, had caused Adarn to sin, and both knew themselves 
carnal and were ashamed, and were driven forth from Paradise, Eve kept 
the branch of the Tree of Life which she had plucked, and planted it and 
it grew to a tree with branches and leaves white in token that Eve was a 
virgin when she planted it. Sitting one day beneath the tree, God 
commanded them to know one another carnally, and when they were 
ashamed to set about such foul work sent darkness over them. Abel was 
thus begotten, and the Tree of Life turned green. Afterwards Cain slew 
Abel underneath that same tree and it turned red. At the Deluge it 
remained unharmed and lasted till Solomon's time. Whilst the wise King 
was pondering over the malice of his wife and of all women, a voice told 
him a woman of his line should bring men more joy than her sex had 
caused sorrow, and that a virgin knight should be the last of his lineage. 
His wife, whom he consults as to how he shall let this knight know he had 
foreknowledge of his coming, advised the building of the ship, and the 
taking of David's sword to be fitted with a new hilt of precious stones, and 
a new pommel and scabbard, and placed in the ship together with 
Solomon's crown on a rich bed ; she furthermore had three spindles made 
from the Tree of Life and from trees grown from it. And when all was 
ready Solomon saw in dreams angels coming from heaven and putting the 
different inscriptions on the sword and ship. (38) The story speaks now 
of other things. New hangings had not been put on the sword, this 

* The 1488 text has Urban. 

f B. H., Thus was the King wounded, and he was Galahad's grandfather. 


\\.ts to be done l>y a damsel. Perceval's sister supplies hangings made of 
her own hair, and names the sword "The Sword of Strange Hangings," 
and the scabbard " Memory of Blood," and Galahad girds on the sword. 
(39) On the morrow they set sail and come to Castle Carchelois, in the 
March of Scotland, the inmates whereof attack them but are all slain. 
Galahad is sorry for those he has killed, but a priest tells him they are 
heathens, and he has done the best work in the world, as the three knights 
who held the castle had ravished their own sister and wounded their father, 
Count Ernous, to death. Before the latter dies he urges Galahad to go to 
the assistance of the Maimed King (to undertake other adventures).* (40) On 
the morrow they meet a white stag led by four lions ; these come to a 
hermitage, hear mass, the stag becomes a man and sits on the altar, the 
lions a man, an eagle, a lion, and an ox, all winged. (41) On the morrow 
Perceval takes Galahad's sword, which he will wear from henceforth. 
They come to a castle, the inmates of which demand that Perceval's sister 
should pay the custom of the castle, which is to give a dishful of blood 
from her right arm. The three companions protect Perceval's sister 
against overwhelming odds till nightfall, when, learning that the blood is 
asked to heal the Lady of the CastJe suffering from leprosy, Perceval's 
sister sacrifices herself. Before dying she gives directions that her body 
is to be put in a ship and buried in the Palace Spiritual in Sarras. Bors 
then leaves his two companions to succour a wounded knight pursued by 
a knight and a dwarf ;f and Perceval and Galahad, after seeing the castle 
they had thus left destroyed by tire from heaven in vengeance of the 
blood of the good maidens which had there been shed, likewise separate. 
(42) The story returns to Lancelot. He is at the Water of Marcoise, 
surrounded by the forest and high rocks, but he does not lose faith in 
God ; in obedience to a voice he goes on board a passing ship and finds 
therein Perceval's sister, whose story he learns from the letter at her head. 
After a month's journeying a knight joins them who proves to be Galahad, 
and they pass together half a year achieving marvellous adventures. After 
Easter, at the new time when the birds sing their sweet and varied songs, 
they come to land, and a knight in white arms bids Galahad leave his 
father, which he does. (43) After a month's further wandering on the 
sea, Lancelot comes to a castle guarded by two lions,;}; against whom he 
would at first defend himself, but is reproved for trusting his strength 
rather than his Creator. Entering, he comes to a room wherein are the 
Holy Vessel, and a priest celebrating mass ; Lancelot is warned not to 
enter, but when he sees that the priest about to raise the body of God has 
a man put into his hands, he cannot refrain from pressing forward to his 
aid, but is struck down by a fiery wind and remains fourteen days dumb, 

* It does not appear from B. H.'s Summary whether Lis text agrees with 
F. or W. 

t B. H., seven knights. 

J B. II., that was the Castle of Corbenic where the Holy G-rail was kept. 


food- and drinkless. He finds he is in Castle Corbeuic, and a damsel tells 
him his quest is ended. King Pelles rejoices to see him, at dinner the 
Holy Grail fills the tables so that living man could not think of greater 
plenty ; whilst at dinner Hector de Mares comes to the castle door, but is 
ashamed to enter, hearing that Lancelot is within, and rides off pursued 
by the reproaches and taunts of those of the castle. Lancelot returns to 
Arthur's court, passing on the way the tomb of Bandainagus, whom 
Gawain had slain. (44) The story returns to Galahad. He comes to an 
abbey wherein is King Mordrains, who knows his approach, and asks that 
he may die in his arms ; Galahad takes him on his breast, Mordrains dies 
and all his wounds are found healed. (45) Galahad cools the boiling 
fountain by putting his hand in it. (46) Galahad delivers from the tomb 
where he had been burning three hundred and fifty-four years his relative, 
Symeu, who thus expiated his sin against Joseph of Arimathea. (47) 
Galahad rides five years before he comes to the house of the Maimed King 
(the court of King Peleur), and during all the five years Perceval bears 
him company, and within that time they achieve the great adventures of the 
Kingdom of Logres (cast out the evil adventures of the Island of Britain). 
(48) One day they met Bors, who in the five years had not been in bed 
four times. The three come to Castle Corbenic* (the court of King Peleur) 
where they are greeted by King Pelles, and where Eliezer, King Pelles 1 son, 
brings the broken sword with which Joseph had been pierced through the 
thighs; Bors cannot rejoin the pieces, Perceval can only adjust them 
together, Galahad alone can make the sword whole, and it is then given 
to Bors. (50) At vesper-time a hot wind strikes the palace, and a voice 
orders all unfit to sit at Christ's table to depart, as the true knights 
were to be fed with Heaven's food. All leave save King Pelles, Eliezer, 
his son, and his niece, the most religious maid on the earth (a young 
maiden) ; to them enter nine knightsf and salute Galahad : three are 
from Gaul (Wales), three from Ireland, three from Denmark. Then 
four damsels bring in on a wooden bed a man, crowned, in evil plight, 
u ho greets Galahad as his long-expected deliverer. A voice orders out of 
the room him who has not been a companion of the Quest, and straightway 
King Pelles and Eliezer and the damsel depart. From heaven comes a 
man clad like a Bishop and borne in a chair by f our J angels, who place him 
before the table upon which stands the Holy Grail. Upon his forehead 
is written that he was Joseph (son of Joseph of Arimathea) first Bishop of 
of Christendom, whereat they wonder, as they know that man lived three 
hundred years before. He kneels before the altar and opens the door of 
the ark (chamber), and four angels^ issue, two bearing burning lights, the 
third a cloth of red samite, the fourth a lance bleeding so hard that the drops 

* B. II., the Castle of the Maimed King. 

f B.H., ten. Obviously a mistake on the part of his text, as the nine with the 
three Grail questers make up twelve, the number of Christ's disciples, 
t B. II., three. 


run into a box he holds in his other hand (two with torches, the third with 
the laiice, the fourth holding the box into which the blood drops) ; the 
candles are placed on the table, the cloth is placed on the holy vessel so 
that the blood fell into it. Joseph then celebrates the Sacrament, and on 
his raising the wafer, as it were a child descends from heaven and strikes 
itself into the wafer, so that it takes man's form. Joseph then kisses 
Galahad and bids him be fed by the Saviour's own hand, and vanishes. 
But there comes out of the holy vessel, a man with hands bleeding and 
feet and body, and says He will reveal His secrets, and give the high food 
so long desired and toiled for. He gives the Sacrament to Galahad and his 
companions, and explains that the Grail is the dish of the Last Supper, 
ctnd Galahad shall see it more fully in the City of Sarras, whither it is 
going, Britain being unworthy of it, and whither he is to follow it with 
Perceval and Bors ; but as he must not leave the land without healing the 
Maimed King he is to take some of the blood of the lance and therewith 
anoint his legs* Galahad asks why all may not come with him ; but Christ 
says they are twelve who have eaten as the Apostles were twelve, and 
they must separate as the Apostles separated. Galahad then heals the 
Maimed King, who goes into an abbey of white monks. (51) The three 
companions, after sending messages to Arthur's court through Estrois de 
Gariles and Claudius, son of King Claudas,-\ coming to Solomon's ship, 
herein they find the Holy Grail, set sail ; on landing bury Perceval's sister, 
heal a cripple to help them carry the Grail-table, are cast in prison by King 
Escorant for a year, are fed by the Holy Grail ; at Escorant's death Galahad 
is made King, fashions a tree of gold and precious stones over the Grail and 
prays before it every morning as do his companions. (52) On the anniver- 
sary of Galahad's crowning the three see before the holy vessel a man clad 
like a Bishop, who begins mass and calls Galahad to see what he has so 
longed to see, and at the sight Galahad trembles very greatly, and he 
thanks God for letting him see that which tongue may not describe nor 
heart think, and he begs that he may pass away from this earthly life to 
the heavenly one. The Bishop then gives him the body of God, and 
reveals himself as Josephus, son of Joseph of Arimathea. Galahad kisses 
Perceval and Bors, and sends greetings to Lancelot through Bors, his soul 
then leaves his body and angels take it away. A hand from heaven then 
comes to the vessel and takes it and the lance, and bears it heaven- 
wards, so that since there was no man bold enough to say he has seen the 
Holy Grail (except Gwalchmai once). (52) Galahad 's body is buried. 
Perceval goes into a hermitage, where Bors stays with him for a year and two 
months ; Perceval dies, and is buried by Bors in Galahad's tomb ; Bors left 
alone in a place as strange as Babylon, sets sail for Britain, and comes to 
Camelot, when all are greatly jt>yed to see him ; he tells the adventures of the 
Holy Grail; they are written down and kept in the Abbey of Salisbury, and 

* B. H. agrees with F. 

f One cannot see from. B. H. whether his text agrees with F. or W. 

E 2 


from these Master Walter Nap drew to make his book of the Holy Grail for 
the love of King Henry his lord, who had the story translated from Latin 
into French. The story now is silent and tells no more concerning the 
adventures of the Holy Grail.* 

Grand St. Graal. (1) The writer salutes all who have faith in 
the Holy Trinity. He does not name himself for three reasons : lest his 
declaration that he received the story from God Himself be a stumbling 
block ; lest his friends pay less honour to the book if they know the 
author ; lest if he have made any blunder all the blame fall upon him. 

(2) In the year 717 after the Passion of Christ, as the writer lies in his 
hut in one of the wildest parts of White Britain, on Good Friday Eve and 
doubts of the Trinity, Christ appears to him and gives him a little book 
not larger than a man's palm, and this book will resolve all his doubts ; 
He Himself has written it, and only he who is purified by confession and 
fasting may read it. On the morrow the writer opens it and finds therein 
four sections, headed each as follows : This is the book of thy lineage ; 
here begins the book of the Holy Grail ; here is the beginning of the 
terrors ; here begin the marvels. As he reads lightning and thunder 
come and other wonders. On Good Friday, as he is celebrating the service, 
an angel raises him in spirit to the third heaven, and his doubts concerning 
the Trinity are set at rest. When his spirit returns to his body he locks 
up the book ; but on Easter Sunday, when he would read further, finds it 
gone ; a voice says he must suffer to have the book back again, must go to 
the plains of Walescog, follow a wonderful beast to Norway, and there 
find what he seeks. He obeys, the beast leads him first to a hermit's, then 
past the pine of adventures to a knight's castle, on the third day to the 
queen's lake and a nunnery. After exorcising a hermit possessed of the 
devil he finds the book, and on his return Christ commands him to make 
a fair copy before Ascension Day. He sets to work at once, on the fifteenth 
day after Easter.f The book begins as follows : Few believe on Christ at 

* B. H. agrees with P. 

f It will be advisable to give here the well-known passage from the chronicle 
of Helinandus, which has been held by most investigators to be of first-rate 
importance in determining the date of the Grand St. Graal. The chronicle ends 
in the jear 1204, and must therefore have been finished in that or the following 
year, and as the passage in question occurs in the earlier portion of the work it 
may be dated about two years earlier (Birch-Hirschfeld, p. 33). " Hoc tempore 
(717-719) in Britannia cuidam heremitae demonstrata fuit mirabilis quaedam 
visio per angel urn de Joseph clecurione nobili, qui corpus domini deposuil de 
cruce et de catijo illo vel paropsicle, in quo dominus caenavit cum discipulis suis, 
de quo ab eodem heremita descripta est historia quae dicitur gradale. Gradalis 
autem vel gradale gallice dicitur scutella lata et aliquant ulum profurida, in qua 
preciosr.e dapes divitibus solent apponi gradatim, unus morsellus post alium in 
diversis ordinibus. Dicitur et vulgri nomine gren], quia grata et acceptabilis 


His crucifixion, among whom is Joseph of Arimathea, as the Holy Scripture 
of the Grail testifies. He is in all things a good man. He lives in Jerusalem 
with his wife and a son, Josephes (not the same Josephes who so often quotes 
the Scripture, but not less learned than he), he it was who passed his father's 
kin across sea to White Britain, since called England, without rudder or 
sail, but in the fold of this shirt. Joseph, having much loved the Lord, 
longs after His death to possess somewhat having belonged to Him ; goes 
to the house of the Last Supper, and carries off the dish wherein He had 
eaten. Having been a knight of Pilate's for seven years, he craves a boon 
of him, which is Christ's body. Pilate grants it ; Joseph descends the 
body from the Cross, places it in a sepulchre, and, fetching the dish from 
his house, collects in it the blood flowing from the body,* and finishes 
laying the body in the tomb. The Jews hear of this, are angered, seize 
Joseph, throw him into prison in the most hideous and dirtiest dungeon 
ever seen, feed him at first on bread and water, but when Christ is found 
to have arisen, Caiaphas, Joseph's jailor, lets him starve. But Christ brings 
the holy dish that Joseph had sent back to his house with all the blood in 
it. Joseph is overjoyed. Christ comforts him, and assures him he shall 
live and carry His name to foreign parts. Joseph thus remains in prison. 
Meanwhile his wife, though often pressed to marry, refuses until she shall 
have had sure tidings of her husband ; as for his son he will only marry 
Holy Church. (3) Forty years go by ; after Christ's death Tiberius 
Caesar reigned ten years, then Caius, one year ; then Claudius, fourteen 
years ; then Noirons, in whose reign S.S. Peter and Paul were crucified, 
fourteen years ; then Titus, and Vespasian, his son, a leper. The freeing of 
Joseph befalls in the third year of Titus' reign and in this wise : Titus has 
vainly sought a leech to heal Vespasian. At last a strange knight from 
Capernaum promises his help and tells how he in his youth had been healed 
of the leprosy by a prophet, The Emperor on hearing this sent to Judea 
to seek out that prophet ; his messenger comes to Felix, and orders him to 

est in ea comedenti, turn propter continent, quia forte argentea est vel de alia 
preciosa materia, turn propter contentum .i. ordinem multiplicein dapium precio- 
sarum. Hanc historiam latine ecriptam invenire non potui sed tantum gallice 
scripta habetur a quibusdem proceribus, nee facile, ut aiunt, tota inveniri potest." 

The Grand St. Graal is the only work of the cycle HOAV existing to which 
Helinandus' words could refer; but it is a question whether he may not have 
had in view a work from which the Grand St. Graal took over its introduction. 
Helinandus mentions the punning origin of the word "greal" (infra, p. 76), 
which is only hinted at in the Grand St. Graal, but fully developed elsewhere, 
e.g., in the Didot- Perceval and in Borron's poem. 

Another point of great interest raised by this introduction will be found 
dealt with in Appendix B. 

* The MS. followed by Furnivall has an illustration, in which Joseph is 
represented as sitting under the Cross and collecting the blood from, the sides and 
feet in the basin. 


have proclamation made for aught Christ has touched ; hereupon an old 
woman, Marie la Venissienne, brings the cloth upon which the Saviour's 
likeness had painted itself when she wiped His face. The messenger returns 
to Rome with this cloth and the mere sight of it heals Vespasian, who 
straightway resolves to avenge Christ's death. He goes to Jerusalem, 
Joseph's wife appears before him, accuses the Jews of having made away 
with her husband ; none of the Jews know where he is save Caiaphas, who 
reveals the secret on condition that he is to be neither burnt or slain. 
Vespasian himself goes down into the prison and finds it as light as though 
one hundred candles had burnt in it. He tells Joseph who he is, whereat 
the latter wondered, not thinking he had been longer than from Friday to 
Sunday, not once had it been dark. A voice tells Joseph not to fear, and 
that he will find the Holy Vessel at his home. Joseph returns to Jerusalem 
with Vespasian, and points out to him the abettors of Christ's death, whom 
Vespasian has burnt. Caiaphas is set adrift in a boat. (4) The night 
before Vespasian returns to Borne, Christ appears to Joseph and commands 
him to go forth and fill foreign lands with his seed ; he must be baptised, 
and must go forth without money or aught but the dish ; all heart can 
want or wish he shall have, all who accompany him must be baptised 
likewise. Joseph is baptised by St. Philip, then Bishop of Jerusalem, as 
is also Vespasian, concerning whom the story is now silent. (5) Joseph 
preaches to his friends and relatives and converts seventy-five of them. 
They leave Jerusalem and come to Bethany, where the Lord appears to 
Joseph, promises him aid as once to the Jews in the wilderness, commands 
him to make a wooden ark for the dish, which he is to open when he 
wants to speak to Him, but no one is to touch it save Joseph and his son 
Josephes ; Joseph does as commanded, his troop is miraculously fed, and 
on the eleventh day they come to the town of Sarras, between Babilone 
and Salavandre, whence the Saracens have their name, and not from Sara. 
(6) Joseph and his seventy-five companions enter the city and go to the 
Temple of the Sun, to the seat of judgment, where the Saracens are 
assembled with their lord, Evalach the Unknown : he had been a man of 
prowess in his youth, but was now old ; seven days before, the Egyptians 
had beaten his army, and the council is now devising how vengeance may be 
taken therefor. Joseph is greatly joyed at these events, and when the 
council advises peace assures the King of victory, but he must destroy his 
images and believe on Him who died on the Cross. Evalach asks how one 
who could not save himself could save another. Joseph, in answer, tells of 
Christ's birth, life, death, descent into hell, resurrection, ascension, and of 
the sending of the Holy Ghost. Evalach cannot understand either the 
Incarnation or the Trinity, a.nd although Joseph explains that the Virgin 
conceived by the overshadowing of the Holy Ghost through her ear, and 
that her virginity was no more hurt than is water when a sunbeam enters 
it, remains stubborn and calls his learned men to his aid, but Joseph 
confounds these, and Evalach lodges the Christians for the night and gives 
them good beds. (7) Evalach dreams of a tree-stock whence spring three 


equal trunks and though three yet are truly one, also of a room with a 
secret door of marble, through which a child passes without opening it ; a 
voice tells him this is a type of the miraculous conception of Christ. (8) 
Meanwhile, Joseph, unable to sleep, prays for comfort and adjures the Lord 
by all His mercies to help Evalach ; he is told by a voice he shall be sent 
for to explain the King's dream. Joseph then goes to sleep with his wife, 
Helyab, but not as lustful folk do, for there was nothing between them 
till the Lord commanded the begetting of Galahad, and then, so full of love 
to the Saviour were they that they had no desire. From Galahad came 
the high race which honoured the land of White Britain, now called Eng- 
land. (9) The morrow morning Joseph and his company worship before 
the ark (now the place wherein they were had been called the Spiritual 
Palace by Daniel) when a soft sweet wind comes and the Holy Ghost 
descends and Christ speaks and urges all to love Him ; He tells Josephes to 
draw near and take charge of His flesh and blood ; Josephes opens the door 
of the ark and sees a man all in red, and with him five angels, each six 
winged, all in red, each with a bloody sword in his left, and in their rights 
severally, a cross, nails, lance, sponge, and scourge ; Josephes sees Christ 
nailed to the Cross, and the blood running down from His side and feet 
into the dish ; he would enter the ark but angels restrain him. Joseph, 
wondering at his son's state, kneels before the ark and sees therein an altar 
covered with white cloths, under which is a red samite one, covering three 
nails, a lance head all bloody, and the dish he had brought, and in the 
middle of the altar an exceeding rich vessel of gold and precious stones ; 
seven angels issue from the ark with water and watering pot (2), gold 
basins and towels (2), and gold censers (3), an eighth carrying the holy 
dish, a ninth a head so rich and beautiful as never mortal eye saw, a tenth 
a sword, three more with tapers, lastly Jesus. The company of angels go 
over the house sprinkling it with holy water, because it had heretofore 
been dwelt in by devils. Christ tells Josephes he is to receive the sacra- 
ment of His flesh and blood, and be made sovran shepherd over His new 
sheep ; bishop's vestments are brought out of the ark. Josephes is seated 
in a chair, which afterwards made a Saracen King's eyes fly out of his head, 
is consecrated, an angel keeps the holy oil wherewith all Kings of Britain 
were anointed till the time of Uther Pendragon. of whom none of the 
many that have told his history have rightly known why he was so called ; 
the meaning of the episcopal vestments is explained to Josephes, and his 
duties set forth. (10) Josephes then goes into the ark and celebrates the 
sacrament using Christ's words only, whereat bread and wine become flesh 
and blood, and in place of the bread a child, which, though as bidden, he 
divides into three parts yet is eaten as one whole ; an angel puts patina 
and chalice into the dish ; Joseph and his company receive the sacrament 
in the form of a child ; Christ bids Josephes celebrate the sacrament daily ; 
tells him that he and Joseph are to go with Evalach's messengers now nigh 
at hand. Leucans, Josephes' cousin, is appointed guardian of the ark. 
(11) Joseph and his son go before the King and overcome all the heathen 


clerk's objections ; Josephes tells Evalach he will be given over to his 
enemies for three days, and shall pnly escape by believing on Christ ; the 
heathen idols are smashed by a devil at the compelling of Josephes' two 
angels. A messenger brings the news that K ing Tholomes has entered 
and is capturing the land, and he will not rest till he be crowned at Sarras. 
Josephes tells the King this ill-hap is to mind him of his lowly origin, he 
is son of a shoemaker in an old city of France, Meaux, and was one of a 
tribute of one hundred youths and one hundred maidens claimed by 
Augustus Csesar from France, as here dwelt a prouder folk than elsewhere, 
and the two daughters of the Count of the Town, Sevain, were among the 
tribute, and Evalach was among their servants. When Felix was named 
Governor of Syria by Tiberius he had taken Evalach with him, and held 
him in high honour until one day, angry with Felix's son, Evalach slew him 
and had to fly, after which he entered the service of Tholome Cerastre, 
King of Babylon, who had given him the land he now ruled. Josephes 
further explains the King's dreams, and when the latter declares himself 
willing to believe, asks for his shield, upon which he fixes a red cross and 
tells him to look on it in his need and pray to God and he shall be saved. 
(12) Eva ] ach marches with his army against Tholomes, is joined by his 
brother-in-law, Seraphe (whom he thought hated him most of any man 
in the world) at the Queen's entreaty ; numerous combats ensue between 
the two armies ; Seraphe performs prodigies of valour ; Evalach is taken 
prisoner, and in his need looks on the shield, sees thereon Christ crucified, 
prays to God for help, a White Knight appears, overcomes Tholomes, who 
is taken prisoner, and Evalach's army is victorous. (13) Meanwhile 
Josephes, remaining in Sarras, has been counselling Queen Sarraquite, 
secretly a Christian, since her mother was cured of a bloody flux, and since 
Christ appeared to her when she was afraid of the hermit her mother had 
led her to for baptism because he had such a long beard ; she dares not 
avow her faith for fear of her husband. Josephes tells her of the battle 
which has taken place and of the White Knight. (14) Evalach and Seraphe 
return ; the King asks at once after the Christians, and learns that he 
owes his victory to the Lord to whom also Seraphe owed his strength in 
battle ; the shield is uncovered, a man with a wounded arm is healed by 
it, and then the cross vanishes ; Seraphe turns Christian, is baptised and 
receives the name Nasciens, he is straightway healed of his wounds, 
exhorts Evalach to believe, and tells of Tholomes' death. Evalach is 
baptised, and re-christened Mordrains, or Slow-of -Belief. After baptising 
the town and destroying all images, Josephes leaves three of his com- 
panions in charge of the Grail Ark, and goes with the rest to Orcanz, turns 
out of an image a devil who had slain Tholomes, and converts more of 
the heathen folk. (15) Meanwhile Mordrains has ordered his people to be 
baptised or to leave his land ; many take the latter course and are met out- 
side Ihe town by a devil who wounds them grievously, whereupon Josephes 
hurries to their aid, but is met by an angel with a lance and smitten 
through the thigh for having left his baptising work to trouble himself 


about conternners of God's law, and the mark of the wound should stay 
with him all his life, and the iron spear head remain in the wound so that 
ever after he limped, and he had later to smart for it, as the tale will show 
in due season. Many more people are converted, Bishops are left in the 
land and holy relics at Sarras. (16) Joseph es brings Mordrains, Sarra- 
quite, and Nasciens to the holy shrine, and shows them the vessel wherein 
is Christ's blood. Nasciens thinks he has never seen aught to match it, and 
he gives it a name that since it has never lost. For, says he, nothing he had 
seen before but somewhat displeased him (li degraast), but this pleases 
him (li gree) entirely ; he further tells how once when a young man, 
hunting, as he stood deep in thought a voice made itself heard, saying 
" Thou shall't never accomplish what thou thinkest on until the wonders 
of the Grail are disclosed," and he knows now this must be the Grail as 
every wish of his heart is accomplished. And he draws nearer and lifts the 
vessel's lid and looks therein, but straightway falls to trembling, feeling 
he can no longer see. And he knew that the blindness was to punish his 
curiosity, and turning to Josephes tells him that the iron shall not be drawn 
out of that wound inflicted by the angel at Orcanz, nor he himself recover 
his sight until Josephes, wounded, himself comes to draw out the iron. 

So they stand lost in thought, till a voice is heard, " After my vengeance 
my healing " and an angel appears, touches Josephes' thigh with the lance 
shaft, whereupon the head comes out, and from it drop great drops of 
blood which the angel collects in a vessel, and wherewith he anoints 
Josephes' wound, making it whole, and Nasciens' eyes, restoring to him his 
sight. And the angel tells them that the meaning of the lance is that of 
the beginning of the wonderful adventures which shall befall in lands 
whither God purposes leading them ; when the true knights should be 
separated from the false ones, and the earthly knighthood become a 
heavenly one. And at the beginning of those adventures the lance would 
drop blood as then, but beforehand none ; and then wonders would happen 
all over the world where the lance was, great and terrible wonders, in 
recognition of the Holy Grail and of the lance ; and the marvels of the 
Grail should never be seen save by one man alone ; and by the lance 
wherewith Josephes was struck should but one other man be struck, and 
he a King of Josephes' kin, and the last of the good men ; he should be 
struck through the two thighs, and only healed when the Grail wonders 
were disclosed to the Good Knight, and that one should be last of Nasciens' 
kin. Thus, as Nasciens was the first to behold the wonders of the Grail, 
that one should be the last ; so saith the true crucified one, adding, " Upon 
the first and last of My new ministers will I spend the vengeance of the 
adventurous lance in token of Myself having received the lance stroke 
whilst on the Cross." And so many days as Josephes had born the lance 
head in his wound so many days should the marvellous adventures last. 
Now these days (years)* were twenty-two. (17) Josephes explains 

* MS. reading. 


Mordrains' vision, and makes him destroy the image of a woman he had 
kept in a secret chamber, known, so he thought, only to himself. (18) 
Josephes and his company go forth from Sarras, but the tale tells nothing 
of them in this place, but keeps straight on. On the following night 
Mordrains dreams that, sitting in Sarras at table, of a sudden a thunder- 
bolt strikes crown from his head and the first mouthful from his lips ; a 
great wind carries him up into a far land where he is fed by a lion and 
lioness, and after a while an eagle carries off Nasciens' son to a land whereof 
the inhabitants bow down before him, and out of this nephew's belly comes 
a great lake giving rise to nine streams, eight of equal breadth and depth, 
the ninth as wide and deep as the remainder put together, and rushing and 
turbulent, and at first foul and muddy, but afterwards clear and pure as a 
precious stone ; then comes down from heaven a man in likeness of one 
crucified, who bathes hands and feet in the lake and eight streams, but in 
the ninth his whole body. (19) Mordrains tells his vision to Nasciens and 
confesses to former treacherous and jealous feelings he had against him ; 
they seek counsel of the priests, but none can expound the vision, and as 
they sit together a great tumult is heard and the sound of a horn announc- 
ing " the beginning of dread," and they fall senseless to the ground ; but 
Mordrains is caught up by the Holy Ghost and borne off. (20) Meanwhile 
Nasciens is accused by Kalafier, a Christian-hater, of having made away 
with Mordrains, and is cast into prison with Kalafier for gaoler. (21) 
Meanwhile Mordrains has been carried off by the Holy Ghost to an island 
lying between Babylon, Scotland, and Ireland, a high land from which the 
western sea can be looked over as far as Spain ; it was once a pirates' lair, 
but Pompey drove them thence. To Mordrains comes a noble man who 
gives his name as Tout-entour, comforts him, and exhorts him to steadfast- 
ness in the faith ; when he leaves a fair woman appears and tempts the 
King, who luckily does not pay heed to her, and well for him, as he learns 
from the noble man that she is Lucifer in disguise. He is assailed by many 
temptations ; storm, thunder, and lightning affright him ; the wonderful 
bird Phoenix attacks him and snatches the bread from his lips ; Lucifer 
again visits him and shows him Nascieiis' dead body, but it is only an 
invention ; finally, all these trials withstood, the noble man comes again 
and expounds the dream of the nine streams : the lake is a son of Nasciens, 
from whom descend nine Kings, all good men and true, but the ninth 
surpassing all in every virtue ; he is the knight to whom the wonders of 
the Grail shall be shown, and Christ shall bathe Himself wholly in him. 
(22) Meanwhile Nasciens has been kept in prison together with his son, 
Celidoine (Heaven-given) by Kalafier. But a miraculous hand appearing 
from out a cloud strikes off Nasciens' fetters, and carries him out of the 
dungeon ; Kalafier pursues but is struck down by the hand ; on his death 
bed he orders that Celidoine be cast from the battlements, but nine hands 
bear him up in mid air, whilst Kalafier, slain by fire from heaven, goes to 
eternal death. Sarraquite, overjoyed to hear of her brother's escape, sends 
out messengers to meet them. Meanwhile Nasciens' wife, Flegentyne, has 

L, INCIDENTS 23-30. 

set out in search of her husband accompanied by the old knight, Corsapias, 
and his son, Helicoras. (23) Now Nasciens has been carried fourteen days 
journey off to the Turning Isle (concerning which many wonders are told) ; 
all of these things are true, as Christ Himself has written the book of the 
Holy Grail, and He never wrote aught else save the Lord's Prayer for the 
disciples and the judgment upon the woman taken in adultery. And no 
man is bold enough to say that since the Resurrection Christ wrote aught 
else save this " haute escripture del S. Graal." (24) A ship conies to 
Nasciens' isle which he would enter but for words warning him against it 
unless he be full of faith. However, crossing himself he enters [and finds 
therein the same wonders as those described in Queste, Inc. 35,36, 37, viz. : 
the sword and the three spindles, precisely the same story about which is told 
as in the Queste]. (25) Nasciens deeming there must be magic in this, the 
ship splits in twain, and had well nigh drowned him, but he regains the 
isle swimming, and on the morrow an old man comes in a ship and gives 
him an allegorical explanation of what has befallen him. (26; Meanwhile 
Celidoine, carried off by the hands to the land of the heathen King Label, 
wins his favour by expounding a dream, converts him, but at his death is 
cast adrift by the heathen barons in a boat with a lion, and after three 
days comes to Nasciens' island. (27) The two rejoice on their meeting, 
and leave the island together in Solomon's ship, come after four days to 
another island, where Nasciens, attacked by a giant, seizes Solomon's sword 
but it breaks in his hand, nevertheless, with another sword he overcomes 
the giant. He chides Solomon's sword, but Celidoine says it is some sin of 
his made it break. Thereafter they see a ship approaching wherein is 
Mordrains. There is rejoicing between the three, and much telling of 
past adventures. Nasciens shows the broken sword to Mordrains, who, 
taking it in his hands, joins it together, whereupon a voice bids them leave 
the ship ; Nasciens, not obeying fast enough, is wounded in the shoulder 
by a fiery sword in punishment of his having drawn Solomon's sword. 
(28) The messengers sent out by Sarraquite in search of Nasciens have, 
meantime, had many adventures, have come across the daughter of King 
Label, suffered shipwreck, and been thrown upon a desert isle formerly the 
home of the great physician, Ypocras (of whom a long story is told how he 
was tricked by a Roman lady), been tempted in divers fashions, but at last 
they are led to Mordrains, Nasciens, and Celidoine. (29) On the third night 
a priest clad in white comes walking on the sea, heals Nasciens' wound, 
and sends off Celidoine in another ship. The remainder come to land, 
Mordrains and Sarraquite are reunited ; Nasciens' wife, Flegentyne, is sent 
for ; and Label's daughter is christened by Petrone, a holy man and kins- 
man of Joseph. She was after Celidoine's wife, as my lord Robert of Borron 
testifies, who translated this history from Latin into French after the holy 
hermit to whom our Lord first gave it. (30) Nasciens sets forth in search 
of his son, his knights follow on his track, and two are struck dead for 
their sins. Nasciens comes again to Solomon's ship, is tempted by the 
devil in the shape of a fair damsel, goes on board the ship and dreams as 


follows : Celidoine is in the promised land with all those who had left 
Sarras ; he, Nasciens, shall go thence likewise and never depart thence, nor 
shall the ship until it take back the last of his line to Sarras, together with 
the Holy Grail, and that shall be after three hundred years ; and there- 
after Celidoine leads before him nine persons, all in guise of Kings, save the 
eighth who was like a dog, and the ninth turns into a lion, and at his death 
the whole world mourns over him. And the names of these, Nasciens' 
descendants, are : Celidoine, Marpus, Nasciens, Alains li Gros, Ysaies, 
Jonans, Lancelot, Bans, Lancelot, like unto a dog until his end, Galahad, 
foul at the source, but afterwards clear, in whom Christ shall bathe Himself 
wholly, and who shall end all the adventures. On the morrow it is 
explained to Nasciens that the eighth of his descendants likens a dog on 
account of his sins, and the ninth is foul at the beginning as engendered in 
fornication and not as Holy Church wills. (31) The story, after touching 
on Flegentyne, who retires to her own land, returns to Joseph, who, with 
his son, Josephes, and his companions, has been wandering about. Joseph is 
ordered by a voice from heaven to beget a son, whose name shall be Galaad. 
At length the company comes to the sea shore and laments that it has no 
ships ; Joseph rebukes them, and says those may pass who have kept chaste, 
whereupon four hundred and sixty come forward to confess their lechery. 
Josephes is told to put forward the Grail-bearers, to take the shirt off his 
back, and having spread it on the water, all the pure companions shall 
find place on it. This happens, and all find place save Symeu and his son, 
who are not as they should be, and who sink and are well nigh drowned. 
The chosen company arrive on the morrow in Great Britain, then full of 
Saracens and infidels. Josephes then prays for the remainder of the 
company ; a hes,venly voice says they shall come in good time, and that 
this is the promised land in which they shall multiply and become the 
worthiest race anywhere. (32) Meantime Nasciens has been led in 
Solomon's ship to those of Joseph's followers who had been left behind, 
as the history of the Holy Grail testifies. After being warned against 
fresh falling into sin they are brought over to Joseph, and are fed with as 
much meat as they could want. But the fifth day the company, not having 
eaten for a day, come to the tent of a poor woman, wherein are twelve loaves 
about which they dispute. Josephes, referred to, breaks each loaf in three, 
and having placed the Holy Grail at the head of the table by its power the 
bread suffices for more than five hundred people. (33) Hereafter the 
company comes to Castle Galafort, where Celidoine is found disputing 
with the Saracen wise men. The Christians are well received by Ganort, 
and shortly afterwards he and his people are baptised, one hundred and 
fifty who refuse being drowned. Over their bodies a tower is built, the 
Tower of Marvels, and thereafter, it is prophesied, a King named Arthur 
should reign, and from one blow of a sword adventures should arise, 
lasting twelve years, until the last descendant of Nasciens should end 
them, and til] that time no knight of Arthur's house should enter the tower 
without having to fight ?,,s good a man as himself ; thus should it be till 


he who was to end the adventures appeared. So they build the tower, 
and it lasts until Lancelot destroys it, as the " Tale of Arthur's Death " 
relates. (34) Joseph's wife bears a son, who receives the name of Galahad, 
of the Castle of Galafort. (35) The King of Northumberland, hearing of 
Gauort's conversion, summons him to the court, and on his refusal attacks 
him, but is defeated and slain by the Christians. (36) Josephes, his father, 
and one hundred and fifty of the Christians, leaving Galafort, come to 
Norgales, and are thrown into prison by King Crudel, who says, "Let 
them be for forty days, and see if their vessel will feed them." Our Lord 
comes to comfort them, and bids them be of good cheer, He will send an 
avenger to slay these dogs. (37) Our Lord, in the likeness of one crucified, 
then appears to Mordrains, bids him set forth with wife and children and 
King Label's daughter and Nasciens' wife and go to Great Britain, there 
to avenge him on King Crudel. Mordrains hearkens, and shortly after 
sets forth with all his household, leaving his land in charge of Duke Ganor. 
Ou the way a devil carries off the captain of the ship, who had lusted after 
Queen Flegentyne. They arrive in Britain arid rejoin their friends ; great 
is the joy ; Nasciens' queen is like to have died of joy, and swoons twelve 
times. (38) Mordrains sends word to Crudel to set the Christians free, and 
on his refusal marches against, overthrows, and slays him, but is grievously 
wounded, though he suffers no pain. Josephes and his companions are 
freed, and thanksgivings are made before the Grail. On the morrow, as 
Josephes is officiating before the holy vessel, Mordains presses near to see 
it, in spite of a warning voice ; he loses his sight and the power of his 
body ; he confesses his folly, but prays he may not die till the Good Knight's 
coming, the ninth of Nasciens' descendants. A voice promises him this, 
and that when the Good Knight comes he shall recover his sight and his 
wounds be healed ; but three hear this promise beside Mordrains himself, 
Joseph, Josephes, and Nasciens. (39) Mordrains is brought to Galafort, 
where Celidoine marries King Label's daughter and begets a son, Nasciens. 
Mordrains then, after giving his wife and shield into Nasciens' keeping, 
retires to a hermitage, and builds a monastery of the "White Monks, and 
stays there till Perceval sees him and Galahad, too, as the " Tale of the Holy 
Grail " tells. (40) Josephes leaves Galafort, and, coming to Camelot, con- 
verts many of the people, whereat King Agrestes, being grieved, is baptised 
with false intent, and after Josephes' departure persecutes the Christians, 
and is punished by madness and death. Josephes returning, buries the 
martyrs, whose blood had blackened a cross, which keeps the name of 
the " Black Cross," till the Good Knight, Lancelot of the Lake's son comes. 
(41) Josephes comes to a hill called Hill of the Giant ; 'tis a Friday, and 
Brons is sitting next him at the Grail-table, but between the two is space 
for a man to sit, and Brons, Josephes' kinsman, asks him why he does not 
invite some one to fill it. Josephes answers, only he who is a holier man 
than any present can fill that place, as it typifies Christ's seat at the Last 
Supper, and is empty waiting His coming, or whom He shall send. Such 
of the company as are in mortal sin take this saying as presumption and 


fable, and Moys declares his willingness to sit in it if his companions will 
ask Josephes' leave. They do so, and though Josephes minds them how 
Moys might hardly come to Britain, and though he solemnly warns Moys 
himself, he gives his leave. Moys takes the seat, and at once seven flaming 
hands from heaven seize upon him and carry him off to a far place burning 
like a dry bush. The people repent, and, in answer to their enquiries, 
Josephes tells them the day shall come when they shall know where Moys 
is. (42) After the meal Josephes, at Brons' request, has the latter's twelve 
sons up before him, and asks them whether they will be wedded or not. 
Eleven choose wedding, but the twelfth virginity and the service of the 
Holy Grail. Josephes, overjoyed, having married the other eleven, 
appoints him guardian of the Grail at his death, and he might leave the 
guardianship afterwards to whom he would. (43) Josephes and his com- 
panions pass through Britain converting the heathen. Now the Grail only 
gives food to such as are not in sin, and once as the troop is encamped by a 
lake, Peter, a kinsman of Josephes', bears it through the ranks, and all are 
fed with the best food, save the sinners ; these complain, and beg Josephes 
to pray for them, whereupon he bi.ds Brons' youngest son, the same he had 
chosen as Grail-keeper, Alains le Gros (not that Alains, Celidoine's son, he 
was king and wore a crown, but this one never) take the net from the Grail- 
table and lish with it in the pond. Alains does so and catches one fish, a 
big one, but say they, 'Twill not be enough ; however, Alains, having shared 
it in three, and having prayed it might suffice, all are fed. Alains is called 
in consequence the Eich Fisher, and all the Grail-keepers after him bear 
this name, but they were more blessed than he, being crowned Kings 
whereas he never wore crown. (44) Joseph, leaving his companions, 
comes into the Forest of Broceliande, meets a Saracen who would lead 
him to his sick brother, but is himself slain by a lion. Joseph is thrown 
in prison and wounded in the thigh by the men of the sick knight's castle, 
but, obtaining leave to visit the sick knight, heals him, and brings back to 
life the Saracen slain by the lion ; both brothers are baptised ; a fragment 
of the sword remaining in the wound, Joseph draws it out, and laying it 
with the remainder of the sword prophecies it shall not be made whole till 
he come who shall achieve the adventures of the Holy Grail. (45) Joseph, 
returning to his companions, finds them in doubt as to how they shall cross 
a great water, they pray for guidance, and a white hart appears, followed 
by four stags, and leads them across, all save Chanaan, who crosses later in 
a fisherman's boat. Josephes, in answer to Alain and Pierron, explains the 
hart and lions as Christ and the Evangelists, and Christ would appear in 
that wise afterwards to Arthur, Mordred, and Lancelot. (46) The Chris- 
tians come to a house where burns a great fire, out of which is heard a 
lamentable voice ; it is that of Moys ; at Josephes' prayer rain falls from 
heaven and quenches half the flames, but he may not be wholly delivered 
until the Good Knight, Galahad, come. (47) The Christians come into the 
land of King Escos, whence Scotland has its name. The Holy Grail 
refuses meat to Chanaan and to Symeu, Moys' father, whereat enraged, 


Symeu attacks Pierre and wounds him, and Chanaan slays his twelve 
brethren. Synieu is carried off by devils, whilst Chanaan's grave bursts 
out in flames, which may not quench till Lancelot come. (48) Meanwhile 
Pierre's wound having become worse, he is left behind with a priest, who 
leads him to the sea shore, and, at his request, places him in a boat ; this 
carries him to the isle of the heathen king, Orcanz, whose daughter finding 
him on the sea shore dying, has pity on him and tends him secretly till he 
is healed. Her father requires a champion, Pierre offers himself, conquers, 
converts, and baptises Orcanz, who takes the name Lamer, and marries his 
daughter, and King Luces comes to the wedding and is overjoyed. From 
him came Gauvain, son of King Lot of Orcanie. Mordred was no true 
son of Lot's, but of Arthur's. Gauvain is thus of the seed of Joseph of 
Ariniathea. (49) Josephes after fifteen years' wanderings comes back to 
Galafort, and finds his brother Galaliad grown up ; by Josephes' advice the 
men of Hocelice take Galahad for their king, and he became the ancestor 
of Ywain, son of Urien. Once whilst riding he comes to Symeu's fiery 
grave, which may not be quenched till Galahad, the Good Knight, comes. 
At Galahad's death he is buried in an abbey he founds to allay Symeu's 
pains, and the tombstone of his grave may not be lifted until by Lancelot. 

(50) Joseph dies shortly after Galahad's crowning, and Josephes, feeliug 
death near, pays a last visit to Mordrains, who begs for a token from him. 
Josephes asks for the king's shield, and with blood gushing from his nose 
marks on it a red cross, gives it to Mordrains, and says no one shall hang 
it on his neck without rue till Galahad do so ; the shield is placed on 
Nasciens' tomb. On the morrow Josephes dies ; his body is carried after- 
wards into Scotland to still a famine, and is buried in the Abbey of Glays. 

(51) Before his death he has confided the Grail to Alain. The latter comes 
with his brethren, one of whom, Josue, is unmarried, to the Terre Foraine, 
converts the King and people, and marries Josue to his daughter. Here is 
the resting-place of the Holy Grail ; a lordly castle is built for it, hight 
Corbeiiic, which is Chaldee, and signifies " holy vessel." At Josue's wedding, 
such is the power of the Holy Grail, that all present are as filled as if they 
had eaten the finest meats they could think of. And that night the King, 
baptized Alfasem, sleeping in the castle, beholds the holy vessel covered 
with crimson samite, and a man all flaming tells him no mortal may sleep 
where the Holy Grail rests, and wounds him through both thighs, and bids 
others beware of sleeping in the Palace Adventurous. And afterwaids 
many a knight essayed the adventure, but lost his life, till Gauvain came, 
and he, though he kept his life, had such shame and mischance as he had 
not had for the Kingdom of Logres' sake. (58) Alain and Alfasem die ; 
Josue becomes King and Grail-keeper, and after him Aminadap, Catheloys, 
Manaal, Lambor, all Kings and known as the Fisher, and Lainbor fighting 
with his enemy, Bruillant, pursues him to the sea shore, and Bruillant 
finds there Solomon's ship and enters it, and finds the sword with which 
he slays Lambor, and this was the first blow struck with that sword in 
Great Britain, and such great woes sprang therefrom that no labourers 


worked, nor wheat grew, nor fruit trees bore, nor fish was found in the 
waters, so that the land was known as the Waste Land. But Bruillaiit 
falls dead for drawing the sword. After Lambor, Pelicans, wounded in 
the two thighs in a battle of Rome, whence he was always called the 
Maimed King, and he might not heal till Galahad the Good Knight come ; 
and from him descends Pelles, and on his daughter does Lancelot of the 
Lake beget Galahad. (59) Nasciens, Flegentyne, and Sarraquite die on 
the self -same day. Celidoine reigns, and is followed by Marpus, he by 
Nasciens, Alain li Gros, Ysaies, Jonas, Lancelot, Bans, Lancelot of the 
Lake. Here the story ends of all the seed of Celidoine, and returns to 
speak of Merlin, which my lord Robert of Borron thus begins.* 

* I have not thought it necessary to give a summary of the prose romance 
Perceval le Gallois. One will be found in Birch-Hirsckfeld, pp. 123-134. The 
version, though offering many interesting features, is too late and unoriginal to be 
of use in the present investigation. 

In making up the slips, the summary of Borron's poem dropped out. In 
order not todisturb the page form, which was fixed before the omission was 
noticed, it has been inserted after the Grand St. Graal with a subpagination. 


Robert de Borron's Poem: Joseph of Arimathea. 

(1) Before Christ's coming all folk went to Hell, but He came born of a 
Virgin that He might bring them out of Hell. He took flesh what time 
Judaea was under Rome and Pilate governed it. Now a soldier of 
Pilate's loved Christ but dared not show it. Of Christ's few disciples one 
was bad, his chamberlain, and he betrayed Him to the Jews. (2) On 
Thursday Jesus gathers His disciples ; Judas' question, the washing of 
the feet, the kiss of betrayal follow. When the Jews carry off Jesus, one 
of them takes the very fair vessel wherein He made His sacrament, and 
gave it to Pilate, who keeps it till he learns Jesus' death. (3) Joseph is 
angry hereat, and claims pay for his and his five knights five years' free 
service, and his pay is Christ's body. Pilate grants it him, and Joseph 
hastens to the Cross, but the guards deny him, whereon he complains to 
Pilate, who sends Nicodemus to see he obtain it, and also gives Joseph 
the vessel. (4) Joseph and Nicodemus descend . the body, and wash 
it, which makes the blood flow afresh. Joseph puts the blood in the 
vessel, wraps the body in a fine cloth and entombs it. The descent into 
Hell and the Resurrection follow. (5) The Jews are incensed against 
Joseph and Nicodemus ; the latter escapes, but Joseph is thrust into a 
horrible and dark prison. To him Christ appears with His vessel, in a 
great light, and instructs Joseph, telling him for his love to Him he 
shall have the symbol of His death and give it to keep to whom he 
would ; He then gives Joseph the great, precious vessel wherein is His 
holiest blood. Joseph wonders, having hidden it in his house. Joseph 
is to yield the vessel to three persons only, who are to take it in the name 
of the Trinity. No Sacrament shall ever be celebrated but Joseph shall 
be remembered. But Joseph must be taught concerning the Sacrament ; 
the bread and wine are Christ's flesh and blood, the tomb is the Altar ; 
the grave-cloth the Corporal, the vessel wherein the blood was put shall 
be called Chalice, the cup-platten signifies the tombstone. All who see 
Joseph's vessel shall be of Christ's company, have fulfilment of their 
heart's wish and joy eternal. (The author adds : I dare not, nor could not, 
tell this but that I had the great book wherein the histories are written 
by the great clerks, therein are the great secrets written which are called 
the Graal.) Christ leaves Joseph, who remains in prison, no man heeding 
him (6) until, when Vespasian, the Emperor's son, was a leper, a pilgrim 
comes to Rome and tells of Christ's cures, and lays his head Vespasian 
could be cured could anything of Christ's be brought to Rome. The 
Emperor sends messengers, who hear Pilate's story of the Crucifixion and 
about Joseph. The Jews are called together, and one tells of Verrine, 
who is brought before the messengers, and she relates how she wiped 
Christ's face and thus got the likeness of Him. They take her to Rome, 
Vespasian is healed, and sets forth to revenge Christ's death. He kills 
many Jews, burning some. One Jew offers to find Joseph, and tells the 
story of his imprisonment. Vespasian is let down into the prison and 
finds Joseph alive, who, to his amazement, welcomes him by name, and 


reads him a lecture on Biblical history and Christian Faith. Vespasian 
is converted, and sells the Jews at the rate of thirty for a penny. (7) 
Joseph exhorts his kin, among them his sister, Enygeus, and brother-in- 
law, Hebron. They agree to believe, and to follow him. He sets off 
with them and they dwell for long in far-off lands. For awhile things go 
well, but then all the host does turns to naught ; 'tis on account of 
carnal sin. The host complains to Hebron that they and their children 
die of hunger. ' (8) Hebron reports this to Joseph, who goes weeping and 
kneels before the vessel and asks why his followers suffer ? A voice from 
the Holy Ghost answers he is not in fault, but he is to set the vessel 
before the people, and to mind him how He, Christ, had eaten with His 
disciples, and how the false disciple was detected. In the name of that 
table whereat Christ last ate, Joseph is to prepare another, and then to 
call his brother-in-law, Brons, and make him go into the water to catch a 
fish, and the first he catches Joseph is to put it on the table, and then to 
take the vessel, put it on the table, cover it with a towel, and then place 
Hebron's fish opposite it. The people are then to be called, who will 
soon see wherein they have sinned. And Joseph is to sit where Christ 
sat at the Last Sacrament, with Brons at his right. And Brons is to 
draw back one seat, to signify the seat of Judas, and the seat thus left 
empty is not to be filled until Enygeus have a child by Brons, her 
husband, and when that child is born there shall be his seat. The people 
is then to be bidden sit down to the grace of our Lord. Joseph does all 
this ; part of the people sit, part do not, the sitters are filled with 
sweetness and the desire of their heart, the others feel nought. One of 
the sitters, named Petrus, asks if they feel nothing, and tells them it is 
because they are defiled with sin. The sinners then depart, but Joseph 
bids them come back day by day. Thus Joseph detects the sinners, and 
thus is the vessel first proved. (9) Joseph tells the sinners it severs them 
from the others, as it holds no company with nor has love towards any 
sinner. The sinners ask the name of the vessel : it is called Graal, as it 
agreeable to all who see it. Now all this is verity, hence we call this 
the Story of the Grail, and it shall be henceforth known as the Grail. 
(10) One sinner remains, Moyses, a hypocrite (here a gap which can be 
filled up from the prose versions : Moyses seats himself in the empty seat, 
whereupon the earth opens and swallows him). (11) Joseph prays to 
Christ that as He came to him in prison, and promised He would come 
to his aid when in trouble, so now He would show him what has become 
of Moyses. The voice tells Joseph again about the empty seat, and how 
that the one at Joseph's table was not to be filled until the third man 
come, whom Hebron should beget and Enygeus bear, and his son should 
fill the seat. Moyses had stayed behind only to deceive, he had his 
deserts, no more sho'uld be heard of him in fable or song until he come 
who should fill the empty seat. (12) In course of time Brons and 
Enygeus have twelve sons and are greatly bothered with them, and ask 
Joseph what is to be done with them. Joseph prays before the vessel ; 


eleven will marry, one remain single ; this one is Alain. Joseph is told 
by the voice when he consults the vessel about this nephew, to relate all 
about Christ's death and about the vessel, to tell Alain that from him 
shall issue an heir who is to keep the vessel ; Alain is to take charge of 
his brethren and sisters and go westwards. An angel will bring a letter 
for Petrus to read, telling him to go whither he lists ; he will say : the 
vale of Avaron ; thither shall he go and wait for the son of Alain, and 
shall not pass away until that one come, and to him shall Petrus teach 
the power of the vessel, and say what has become of Moyses, and then 
may he die. (13) All happens as foretold by the voice ; the letter comes 
for Petrus, who declares his intention of departing for the vale of Avaron, 
bidding the host pray God he may never go against His will. Alain leaves 
with his brethren, and, as Joseph taught him, preaches the name of Jesus 
Christ. (14) Petrus stays one day more ; it is, says an angel, the Lord 
sends to Joseph, that he may see and hear the things of the vessel. The 
angel continues : The Lord knows Brons for a worthy man, and 'twas, there- 
fore His will he should go fishing ; he is to keep the vessel after Joseph, 
who must instruct him properly especially concerning the holy words which 
God spake to Joseph in the prison, which are properly called the Secrets 
of the Grail ; Brons is to be called the Rich Fisher from the fish he 
caught ; all the people are to go westwards ; Brons is to wait for the son 
of his son, and to give him the vessel, then shall the meaning of the 
blessed Trinity be made known ; after the vessel has been given to Brons, 
Petrus is to go, as he may then truly say he has seen Hebron, the Rich 
Fisher, put in possession of the vessel ; when all this is done, Joseph is to 
go to perfect joy and life pardurable. (15) On the morrow Joseph tells 
them the angel's message, save the words of Christ in the prison, which 
he tells to the Rich Fisher alone. The latter is then put in possession of 
Grail and headship ; Joseph stays three days with him, then the Good 
Fisher goes away in the land where he was born and Joseph remains.* 
Master Robert de Borron should doubtless tell where Alain went, 
Hebron's son, and what became of him ; what life Petrus led, and what 
became of him ; what became of the long-lost Moyses ; where the Rich 
Fisher went, and where he stayed. It were well to assemble these four 
things, but this no man could do save he had first heard tell the greatest 
history of the Grail, which is all true ; and in this time I tell it to my 
Lord Walter, never had the great history of the Grail been told by 
mortal man. If God gives me strength I will assemble these four parts 
if I can find them in a book, meanwhile I must go on to the fifth and 
forget the four. (Then follows the Merlin). 

* Cf. p. 78 as to this passage. 


Robert de Borron's Poem: Merlin. (In order to give all the 
materials for the discussion of Birch-Hirschfeld's theory of the Grail legend 
in the next chapter, a brief summary of the Merlin is added. A full one 
may be found in Birch- Hirschf eld, pp. 166, et seq.) 

The devil, incensed at Christ's victory over him, in revenge begets by 
fraudf ul malice upon a virgin, a son, who is to be the wisest of mankind, 
and to oppose Christ's teaching. This is Merlin, who at eighteen months 
is able to save his mother, threatened with the doom of unchastity. After- 
wards he is brought to King Vortigern, to whom he expounds the mystery 
of the unfinished tower. Vortigern is driven from his throne by Pendragon, 
with whom Merlin stands in high honour ; equally so with his successor, 
Uter Pendragon, for whom he builds the Round Table, leaving one place 
empty to be filled in the time of liter's successor. He then helps the 
King to satisfy his passion for Yguerne, and takes charge of Arthur, their 
son. When the latter grows up to be a youth he fulfils the adventure of 
the sword in the anvil, and is proclaimed King. " And I, Robert of Borron, 
writer of this book, may not speak longer of Arthur till I have told of 
Alain, son of Brons, and how the woes of Britain were caused ; and as the 
book tells so must I what man Alain was, and what life he led, and of his 
seed and their life. And when I have spoken of these things I will tell 
again of Arthur." 

(Then follows in one solitary MS., the Didot-Perceval summarised 
above, p. 28. As will be seen, it does not tell what man Alain was, nor 
does it refer to him at all save in the most passing way). 



The legend formed of two portions : Early History of Grail, Quest Two 
forms of each portion distinguished Grouping of the various versions 
Alternative hypotheses of development Their bearing upon the 
alleged Celtic origin of the Grail Closer examination of the various 
accounts of the Grail : The first use made of it and its first possessor ; 
its solace of Joseph ; its properties and the effect produced by it ; its 
name ; its arrival in England ; the Grail-keeper and his relationship 
to the Promised Knight Three different stages in the development of 
the Queste The work and the qualification of the Promised Knight 
Conclusions : Priority over Early History of Quest Chronological 
arrangement of the versions. 

THE information afforded by the summaries enables us to take a 
general view of the legend as a whole, and to attempt a more 
accurate chronological classification of its varying forms. It will 
have been seen that the legend is formed of two distinct 
portions : the one dealing with the origin and wanderings (Early 
History) of the Grail, the other with its Quest. The two portions 
are found combined in the Joseph and Didot- Perceval and in the 
Grand St. Graal and Queste considered each as one organic whole. 
Versions A, Chrestien and his continuators ; C, Didot-Perceval 
taken by itself; D, Queste; F, Wolfram, and G, Perceval le Gallois, 
treat only of the Quest. Versions B, Metrical Joseph, and E, 
Grand St. Graal, only of the Early History. But in nearly all the 
the versions, no matter of which portion, references are to be found 
to the other, and when the versions are carefully examined, it is 
found that of each portion there exist two entirely different forms. 
Taking the Early History first, versions A, B, C, D, E, and G, in so 
far as they deal with it at all, relate much as follows : the Grail is 
the vessel which our Lord used at the Last Supper, which, given 
by Pila,te to Joseph, served the latter to receive the blood flowing 
from the body of the dead Christ, sustained him miraculously 



during his captivity, was, after his release, used by him to test the 
faith of his followers, and was brought to England by Joseph 
(A, D, E), by Brons (B, C), and was finally confided by Joseph 
to his brother-in-law, Brons, to be kept until the coming of the 
latter's grandson (versions B and C), or was left in charge of Alain, 
son of Brons, from whom it passed to his brother Josue, in whose line 
it remained until the Good Knight should come (version E). But 
F, Wolfram makes the Grail a vessel of " lapsit exillit " (i.e., lapis 
herilis, or lapsus ex coelis, or lapis electrix), which, after the fall of 
the rebel angels, was given in charge to Titurel and his dynasty, 
and by them preserved in the Grail Castle, Montsalvatch, guarded 
by a sacred order of Knighthood whom it chooses itself. So far, 
therefore, as the Early History is concerned all the versions, save 
one, are in the main of the same class, the differences between them 
being, apparently, ones of development and not of origin. 

Turning now to the Quest, two classes are likewise to be 
distinguished: in the first the hero is Perceval, in the second there 
are three heroes, Galahad, Perceval, and Bors, chief of whom is 
Galahad. To the first class belong versions A, Chrestien, etc., C, 
Didot-Perceval ; F, Wolfram ; and G, Perceval le Gallois ; whilst 
D, Queste, alone of the versions which recount the Quest only, 
belongs to the other class. Jt is followed, however, by E, Grand 
St. Graal, in so far as the latter has any reference to the Quest. 
In the other Early History version, namely B, Metrical Joseph, the 
name of the hero who is to achieve the Quest is not mentioned, but 
the indications concerning him agree more closely with the march 
of the story in C, Didot-Perceval, than with those of D, Queste; 
it must therefore be ranged in the first class. The main incident 
in the versions of this class is the hero's visit to the castle of a sick 
king, his beholding there the Grail in company with other relics, 
his neglect on the first visit to ask the meaning of what he sees, 
his punishment, second visit to the Grail Castle, and attainment of 
his end, whether healing of the Sick King or winning of the Grail 
kingship. The two versions, H, Peredur, and I, Sir Perceval, which 
belong to the Grail cycle, though they do not mention the Grail, and 
although I, Sir Perceval, does not contain the above-mentioned 
incident, must likewise be placed in this class, as must also the 


Gavvain episodes of Diu Croiie. In the second class this main 
incident is missing, though several of its less important features 
are present in altogether different connection. The story in D, 
Queste, is largely made up of adventures tallying often detail for 
detail with those in the Early History version, E, Grand St. Graal, 
with which it shares similarity in the Quest form. 

Whilst each portion of the legend exists in two forms, the great 
majority of versions in both cases belong to one form. Looking 
for the moment upon D and E as one whole, there is in both cases 
only one minority- version, viz., for the Early History, F, Wolfram, 
for the Quest D-E, Queste, Grand St. Graal. And each of these 
is only in a minority as far as one portion of the legend is 
concerned, D-E, agreeing with the majority in the Early History, 
and F in the Quest. Taking the average of all the versions there 
results what may be called the Joseph of Arimathea form as the 
type of the Early History ; the Perceval form as the type of the 
Quest. As a rule, it may be confidently assumed that the larger 
number of versions represent an older form, an assumption 
strengthened so far as the Early History is concerned by the fact 
that the minority version, F, Wolfram, can historically be proved 
to be one of the latest in date of all the versions, and, so far as the 
Quest is concerned, by the following considerations : The minority 
version, D-E, has three heroes, of whom Perceval is second in 
importance only to the chief hero, Galahad, indeed he occupies as 
large a space in the narrative. This position can be due only to 
his being the original achiever of the Quest. It is obviously 
inadmissible that seven or eight versions should have conspired to 
pick out one only, and that one the second, of the three heroes of 
the Queste, and should have made him the sole hero, whilst it is 
easy to understand that the author of D, Queste, dissatisfied for 
certain .reasons with the older forms of the story, yet not daring 
to alter it so far as to entirely burke the original hero, should have 
taken the course he did. 

Two alternative hypotheses now naturally suggest themselves. 
The two parts of the legend may really form one organic whole, 
although more frequently found asunder than combined, or the 
one part may be an explanatory and supplementary after-thought. 

F 2 


If the first hypothesis be accepted, it is natural to look npon the 
Metrical Joseph and the Didot- Perceval as the first and last parts of 
a trilogy, which, as presenting the legend in its fullest and most 
orderly shape, has a claim to being the oldest form of the story, 
and the main, if not the only, source of all other versions. If, on 
the other hand, the second hypothesis be exact, if one part of the 
legend be later than the other, and has been artificially welded into 
one with it, that version in which this fusion is most perfect, instead 
of being the earliest is, with greater likelihood, one of the latest 
forms. How do these alternative hypotheses affect the special 
object of these studies the investigation of the alleged Celtic 
element in the Grail romances ? In this way. If the Early 
History 'be an integral part of the romance, the probabilities in 
favour of a purely Christian legendary origin for the Grail itself 
are immensely increased, and the utmost the Celtic partisan could 
hope to show was that a Christian legend had somehow or other 
been strongly influenced by Celtic popular traditions. But if the 
reverse be true the probabilities are at once in favour of the 
Christian legendary element being the intruding one, and the chief 
aim of the Celtic partisan will be to disengage the present versions 
of the Quest from the traces left upon them by the Early History, 
and to accumulate as many parallels as possible between the 
residuum and admittedly genuine Celtic tradition. It by no means 
follows, however, that the acceptance of the second hypothesis 
involves the acceptance of the Celtic origin of the Grail. The 
romance as we have it Quest, Early History may be the fusion of 
two elements, one of which, the Christian legendary, may claim 
all that is connected with the mystic vessel. "Were it otherwise 
our task would be greatly simplified. For the mere fact that what 
may be called the non-Grail members of the cycle, i.e., H, Peredur, 
and I, Sir Perceval, know nothing of the Early History, gives no 
uncertain hint as to which portion of the romance is the original, 
and which the accretion. Two points have then to be investigated 
the relationship one to the other of Early History and Quest ; 
and, if the Quest is found to be the older portion, whether the 
Grail really belongs to it, or whether its presence in the various 
forms of the story as we now have them may not be due to the 



Early History. An examination of the various passages in which 
the Grail is mentioned will furnish material towards settling the 
first point. Such an examination may profitably omit all reference 
to Wolfram, to the prose Perceval le Gallois, from which little is 
apparently to be gained respecting the oldest forms of the legend, 
and to Heinrich von dem Tiirlin's version of the Gawain episodes. 
It must also neglect for the nonce the two non- Grail members of 
the cycle (the Mabinogi and Sir Perceval) as their testimony is 
either of little or of the highest value according as the Quest is or 
is not found to be the oldest portion 'of the romance. With these 
exceptions all the versions furnish elements of comparison, though 
little is to be got, as far as the point under discussion is concerned, 
from what is apparently the latest section of the Conte du Graal, 
Gerbert's poem. 

The consideration of the second point will necessitate com- 
parison of the various Quest forms among themselves, and the 
examination of numerous Celtic stories which present analogies 
with them. 

The Grail : the first use 'made of it and its first Possessor. 

We learn nothing from Chrestien respecting the early history 
of the Grail, nor is Gautier more communicative if the Mons MS. 
version be followed. The intercalation, A HA, however, and 
Manessier give full details. According to the former : 

. . . c'est icel Graal por voir 

Que nostre Sires tant arna 

Que de son saint sane 1'anora 

Au jor que il fu en croix mis. (16-19) 

According to the latter : 

C'est li vassiaus, ce sacieVvous, 

U ens li sains sans previous 

Nostre Segnor fu rece"us 

Quant de la lance fu f6rus. (35,017-20) 

We learn from the former that " Josep le fist fere " (v. 22), and 
that he used it to collect the blood that flowed from each foot of 
our Lord as He hung on the Cross (verses 30-39), whilst the latter 
leaves it uncertain who the first possessor was, and who held the 


Grail to receive our Lord's blood. The information given in 
versions B, is as might be expected, much fuller. B I, Metr. Jos,, 
which calls it "un veissel mout gent," tells how Christ used it, He 
" feisoit son sacrement" in it; how it was found by a Jew, who 
delivered it up to Pilate, by whom it was given to Joseph, and by 
him used to receive the blood which bursts forth again from 
Christ's wounds when the body has been taken down from the 
Cross. C, Didot-Perceval : Brons, after relating how Longis 
pierced the Lord's body as it hung on the Cross, says of the Grail, 
" en cest vessel gist le sane que Joseph recueilli qui decoroit par 
terre" (p. 483). E, Grand St. Graal: Joseph himself finds the 
vessel out of which Christ had eaten, takes it home, and when he 
has received the body from Pilate, fetches the vessel and collects 
in it all the blood flowing from the wound he can (I, pp. 23, 24). 
Curiously enough, the very MS. which gives this version has an 
illustration of Joseph sitting under the Cross and collecting the 
blood as it drops from the wounds in side and feet. Three different 
accounts of how the Grail came into Joseph's possession and to what 
use he put it thus exist : 

(1) The Grail is the vessel in which Christ's blood was received 

as He hung upon the Cross (Pseudo-Gantier, Manessier, 
Didot-Perceval, and an illustration in a MS. of the Grand 
St. Graal) ; Joseph had had it made (Pseudo-Gautier). 

(2) The Grail is the vessel which had been used by Christ at 

the Last Supper. It is used as a receptacle for the blood 
of Christ after His body has been taken down from the 
Cross (Metr. Jos.). 

^3) Same as No. 2, with minor alterations, such as that it was 
Joseph who found the holy vessel himself (Grand St. 

The Grail : its Solace of Joseph. 

Chrestien and Gautier are again silent, but from A HA, Pseiido- 
Gautier, we learn that Joseph was wont to pray before the 
Grail, that he was, in consequence, imprisoned in a high tower by 
the Jews, delivered thence by the Lord, whereupon the Jews resolve 


to exile him with Nicodemus, and that sister of his who had a 
likeness of Christ (verses 60-110). Manessier, in the Mons MS. 
version, passes this over, but A IIlA, has the following important 
passage : 

En une charte orrible et IMe 
Fu mis Joseph sanz mil arreste ; 

XL ans ilecques estut 

C'onques ne menja ne ne but ; 

Mais Damediex li envoioit 

Le Saint Graal que il veoit 

II foiSes ou III le jor ; (V. pp. 153-4.) 

In the B versions this episode is one of capital importance. B I., 
Joseph is put into prison, because the Jews suspect him of having 
stolen away Christ's body. To him in the dungeon, " qui estoit 
horrible et obscure " (v. 703), appears Christ, who hands him 
the Grail, whereat he is surprised, as he had hidden it in a house 
where none knew of it (v. 860), and addresses him as follows : 

En ten povoir 1'enseigne aras 

De ma mort et la garderas 

Et cil 1'averunt a garder 

A cui tu la voudras donner. (847-50) 

These will be three- 
Joseph, bien ce saras garder, 
Que tu ne le doiz commander 
Qu'a trois persones qui 1'arunt. 
Ou non dou Pere le penrunt 
Et dou Fil et dou Saint-Esprit (871-75) 

The offices Joseph rendered to Christ's body were symbolical of 
the Sacrament : the sepulchre is the altar ; the sheet in which the 
body was wrapped the corporal ; the vessel in which the blood was 
received shall be called chalice ; and by the patina upon which if 
rests is. signified the tombstone (v. 901-912). Finally Christ 
promises Joseph that : 

Tout cil qui ten veissel verrimfc, 
En ma compeignie serunt ; 
De cuer arunt emplissement 
Etjoie pardurablement. (917-20) 


The prose versions repeat this account in the main, but with 
some important additions, thus : B II, Cange MS., adds after 
Christ's last words, " Lors li aprant Jhesu Christ tex paroles que 
ja nus center ne retraire ne porroit, etc. (I, 227) ; when Christ 
hands the vessel to Joseph, " Tu tiens lou sane as trois personnes 
en une deite, qui degota des plaies de la char au fil, etc. (I, 22526) ; 
after the description of the Grail, " lou Graal c'est a dire sor lou 
caalice." . . In C, Didot- Perceval, the Holy Ghost, speaking 
to Brons, commands him to reveal to Perceval, " icelles paroles 
segroies qu'il (i.e., Christ) aprist a Joseph en la prison," which, 
adds the narrator, "je ne vous puis dire ne ne doi " (I, 483). 
E, Grand St. Graal : The Jews, angry at Joseph's having taken 
Christ's body down from the Cross, throw him into " la plu 
hideuse chartre qui onques fust veue " and when they hear of the 
Lord's resurrection propose to starve him ; but Christ comes to him, 
brings him for comfort " la sainte esceuele que ostoie en sa maison 
a tot le sane qu'il Auoit requelli," and comforted him much, and 
assured him that he should not die in prison but come out safe and 
sound, and his name be glorified. And Joseph " fu en la prison 
. . . . tant qu'il demoura xlii ans (pp. 25-26).* Here again 
are three distinct accounts : 

(1) That of Pseudo-Gautier, which merely mentions Joseph's 

devotions to the Grail, and does not connect that devotion 
with any solace during his captivity. 

(2) That of the B versions, in which Christ Himself brings the 

holy vessel to the captive, and connects it with certain 
promises and recommendations which He makes to him ; 
the vessel shall remain with his seed, but it is to be in 
charge of three persons, a symbol of the Trinity. The 
services rendered by Joseph to Christ's body are con- 
nected with the Mass. The late (prose) drafts of this 
version insist still more upon the sacramental nature of the 

(3) The Grand St. Graal and Pseudo-Manessier introduce a 

* It is forty-two years, according to D. Queste (p. 119), after the Passion 
that Joseph comes to Sarras. 


fresh element the Grail is the material means by which 
Joseph is sustained (forty years according to the one, forty- 
two years according to the other version) without food or 

The great importance of the incident in the B versions is most 
remarkable when contrasted with the comparative indifference 
displayed by the other versions, and notably by the Grand St. 
Graal, which, at the first blush, looks so like a mere amplification 
of B, still more remarkable the agreement between the prose ver- 
sions of B, with C, Didot- Perceval, respecting Christ's words to 
Joseph against B I, Metr. Jos. It is difficult to decide which of 
the two versions is the older; B I, after Christ's words, has the 
following important passage : 

Ge n'ose center ne retreire, 
Ne je lie le pourroie feire, 
Neis, se je feire le voloie, 
Se je le grant livre n'avoie 
CM les estoires sunt escrites, 
Par les granz clers feites et dites : 
Ld sunt li grant secre escrit 
Qu'en numme le Graal et dit. 

which may either have been the reason why the prose versions, 
followed by the Didot-Perceval, speak as they do about the secret 
words, or may be the versifier's excuse for giving those secret words 
themselves, i.e., the explanation of the mysteries of the Grail in its 
relation to the Sacrament, in which case the verse would be later 
than the prose forms.* Finally, it would seem that Pseudo- 
Manessier, A IIlA, and the Grand St. Graal drew their information 
one from the other or from a common source. 

* It is plain that B I is abridged in the passage dealt with, from the following 
fact : Joseph (v. 2,448, etc.) praying to Christ for help, reminds Him of His 
command, that when he (Joseph) wanted help he should come " devant ce 
veissel precieus Ou est rotre sans glorieus." Now Christ's words to Joseph in 
the prison say nothing whatever about any such recommendation; but E, Grand 
St. Graal, does contain a scene between our Lord and Joseph, in which the 
latter is bidden, " Et quant tu vauras a moi parler si ouuerras 1'arche en quel 
lieu que tu soies " (I, 38-39) from which the conclusion may be drawn that 
B I represents an abridged and garbled form of the prototype of E. 


Properties and Effect of the Grail. 

In Chrestien these seem to be of a purely physical nature ; the 
Grail is borne uncovered through the hall at every meal (4,470-79) , 
it feeds the Fisher King's father 

D'une seule oiste li sains horn 

Quant en ce Greal li aporte 

Sa vie sostient et conforte 

Tant sainte cose est li Graaus. (7,796-99) 

the most direct testimony in Chrestien to its sacred nature. In 
Gautier, likewise, the physical properties are insisted upon in the 
following passages : 

Lors vit parmi la sale aler 

La rice Gre"ail ki servoit 

Et mist le pain a grant esploit. (20,114-16) 

Moult mangierent a grant loisir ; 

Adonques v6issies servir 

Le Greail moult honestement. (20,142-43) 

but in verses 28,078-81 a remarkable spiritual effect is attributed 

to it- 
Car li diables ne deceit 
Nul homme ki le jor le voie, 
Ne ne le met en male voie 
Por faire p6ci6 creminal. 

In A HA, Pseudo- Gautier, the physical side alone is insisted upon 

Et de quanqu'il lor ert mestiers 

Les fornissoit a tel plente 

Com s'i] n'eust neant couste ; (12-14) 

Et li Graaux par tot aloit 

Et pain et vin par tot portoit 

Et autres mes a grant plante. (171-74) 

Manessier makes no special reference to the properties of the Grail. 
In the B versions it is the spiritual power of the Grail which is 
dwelt upon. Christ's words to Joseph have already been quoted 
(supra, p. 71), and the use which the latter puts the Grail to, and 
which is specially indicated to Joseph by the Holy Ghost, is in 


accordance with them. The Grail is to serve him as a touchstone to 
distinguish the sinners of his company 

Car il n'a a nul pecheour 

Ne compaignie ne amour ; (2,629-30) 

whereas to those who have not defiled themselves with sin it brings 
La douceur, 1'accomplissement 
De leur cueura tout enticement ; (2,565-67) 

so that according to them 

. . . . Cuers ne pourroit, 

A pourpenser ne soufiroit 

Le grant delit que nous avuns 

Ne la grant joie en quoi nous suns. (2,609-12) 

This testing power of the Grail is especially brought into play 
when the vessel is placed on the table in connection with the fish 
which Brons caught, and which won him the name of the Rich 

C, Didot-Perceval, has only one reference, " ne il ne covient 
mie en sa compagnie pechier" (I, 483), agreeing with B and with 
Gautier's lines 28,079-80. 

In D, Queste, we revert to the physical gifts of the Grail. "And 
as soon as it entered the door of the hall the whole court was filled 
with perfumes .... and it proceeded to every place in the 
hall. And as it came before the tables it filled them with every 
kind of meat that a man would wish to have." When it comes in, 
" Every one looked at each other, and there was not one that could 
say a single word;" when it goes out, "Every one recovered his 
speech " (D II, pp. 442-43). There is no allusion to a gathering at 
which the Grail is used to test the state of grace of its devotees. 
E, Grand St. Graal, shows a curious mixture of the two ideas; the 
Grail feeds its worshippers, but only those who are "de sainte 
vie," to them it bring " toutes le boines viandes ke cuers d'omme 
pourroit penser," but " li pecheour n'auoient ke mangier." This 
version shows itself here, as in so many other passages, one of the 
latest in date, embodying and reconciling as it does the conceptions 
of the older versions conceptions which it is difficult to derive, 
either from a common source or from one another. If it were not 
for the solitary phrase of Gautier's, lines 28,079, etc. (a passage which 


affords the strongest proof against the homogeneity of that part of 
the Conte du Graal which goes under Gautier's name), there would 
be an unbroken chain of testimony as to the food-giving power of 
the Grail on the part of the earlier A versions, supported by the 
Queste in opposition to the spiritual gifts insisted on by the B and 
E, Grand St. Graal, forms. It is in any case difficult to believe that 
if the writer of the Queste, with his strong tendency to mystic 
allegory, had had before him the highly spiritual presentment of 
the Grail-power;found in B, he would have neglected it in favour 
of the materialistic description he uses. In one point this version 
differs from all others, the dumbness with which the Grail strikes 
those to whom it appears.* 

Name of Grail. 

Whilst the majority of versions afford no explanation of the 
name of the Grail, B and C attach a curious punning meaning to 
it, thus B I, Metr. Jos. : 

Par droit Graal 1'apelera ; 
Car nus le Graal ne verra, 
Ce croi-je, qu'il ne li agr6e ; (2,659-61) 

and C, Didot-Perceval, " Et por ce 1'anpelon-nos Graal, qu'il agree 
as prodes homes " (p. 483). E, Grand St. Graal, seems to follow 
these versions in Nasciens' words, " Car tout mi pense sont 
accompli, puis ke ie voi chou qui en toutes choses me plaist et 
m'agree " (I, 212). Is such a punning explanation more con- 
sonant with the earliness or the lateness of the versions in which it 
is found ? If the meaning of " Greal " as cup or vessel was a 
perfectly well-established one, it is difficult to see why in the first 
treatment of the subject it should have been necessary to explain 
the word at all. 

Arrival of the Grail in England. 

Neither A I, Chrestien, nor A II, Gautier, give any indication 
how the Grail came to England; not until we come to A HA, 

* In the Mabinogi of Branwen, the daughter of Llyr, the warriors cast into 
the cauldron of renovation come forth on the morrow fighting men as good as 
they were before, except that they are not able to speak (Mab., p. 381). 


Pseudo-Gautier, do we learn anything on the subject. It is there 
related (v. 139-48) how Joseph and his companions take ship 
and sail till they come to the land promised Joseph by God the 
White Isle, namely, a part of England; and how (v. 161-66) 
Joseph, finding that " sa vitaille li falloit," prays God to lend him 
that Grail in which he had collected the holy blood. The prayer is 
granted and the Grail appears and feeds the company. A III, 
Manessier, simply says that Joseph, after leaving Sarras, carried the 
Grail about with him, then in a singularly enigmatic passage (the 
Fisher King is speaking) : 

Et, quant il fureiit departis, 
II s'en ala en son pa'is, 
Et tout partout il il aloit 
La loi Jhesucrist essauoit. 
Puis vint en cest pais manoir, 
Od lui le saint Greal, por voir. 
Josep qui en Dieu se fia 
Icest pa'is 6defia. (35,123-30) 

The B versions account is much more elaborate, and demands the 
most careful analysis. In B I, Metr. Jos., the first mention of the 
West is found in Christ's words to Joseph concerning his nephew, 
Alain, who is to keep the Grail, to take charge of his brothers and 
sisters, and 

Puis s'en ira vers Occident 

Es plus loiteins lius que pourra ; (3,100-01) 

further that Petrus is likewise to go " es vaus d'Avaron (3,123), it 
being added that 

Ces terres trestout vraiement 

Se treient devers Occident. (3,125-26) 

Effectively we learn (v. 3,262, etc.) that Alain leads his brothers 
into strange lands. But the Grail remains behind, and in v. 
3,353, etc., an angel declares it necessary that all the people should 
go to the West, that Brons should have the vessel, that he should 
go straight to the West, and that Petrus, after seeing the Grail 
safe in Brons' keeping, is to go likewise. Joseph follows the angel's 
command, and three days after he has committed the Grail to 
Brons' hands 


Aiusi Joseph se demoura. 

Li boens Pescherres s'en ala 

(Dorit furent puis meintes paroles 

Contees, ki ne sunt pas foles) 

En la terre lau il fu nez, 

Et Joseph si est demourez. (3,455-60) 

A puzzling passage, as it is difficult to be sure whether line 3,459 
refers to the Fisher or to Joseph, a point of obvious importance, 
as in the latter case it would indicate that Joseph in this version 
does not go West. On turning to the prose versions, some re- 
markable variations are found in the corresponding passages; thus 
B II, Cange MS. (I, 265) after relating how Brons finds wives for 
his children, adds, " Mais ancor estoit la crestientez moult tenue 
et moult novele en ce pais que Fan apeloit la bloe Bretaigne que 
Joseph avoit novellement convertie a la creance de Jhesu- Christ," 
words which would seem to indicate that the writer imagined 
Joseph and his company already in England. The corresponding 
passage to v. 3,445-60 runs thus : Ensinc se departirent, si s'en ala 
li riches peschierres dont maintes paroles furent puis, en la grant 
Bretaigne et ensinc remest Joseph et fina en la terre et ou pais oil 
il fu envoiez de par Jhesu-Crist (275). B III, Didot MS, accen- 
tuates the punning reference to Avalon in the angel's message to 

Joseph, " Come li monde va en avalant covient-il 

que toute ceste gent se retraie en Occident " (p. 330). The final 
passage runs thus : " Eynsi se despartirent Joseph et Bron : et 
Joseph s'en ala en la terre et el pais ou il fust nez et ampris la 
terre" (p. 332). Thus the testimony of these versions favours the 
application of v, 2,459 in Metr. Jos. to Joseph. From C, Didot- 
Perceval, we obtain an account similar in parts to that of the B 
versions, the most direct reference being in the speech of the 
hermit, Perceval's uncle, " Biaus nies, saches que a la table la ou 
Joseph fist et je meismes oimes la voiz de saint esperit qui 
nos comenda venir en loingteines terres en Occident, et comenda 
le riche pecheor mon pere que il venist en cestes parties, la ou li 
soleil avaloit " (449-50), where the punning reference to Avalon is 
again prominent, and where, apparently, the passage of Joseph 
himself to England is not indicated. An entirely different form 
of the legend is found in D and E. In the former (D II, 450) 


it is briefly stated, " And afterwards it happened to Joseph, and 
Joseph his father, and a number of his family with them, to set 
oat from the city of Sarras, and they came as far as Great 
Britain"; again, p. 467, Perceval's aunt relates how when Joseph 
of Arimathea came, and his son Joseph with him, to Great Britain, 
there came with them about 4,000 people, all of whom are fed by 
ten loaves, placed on the table, on the head of which is the Grail. 
E, Grand St. Graal, dwells specially upon Josephe ; he is referred 
to in I, p. 22, as having passed "le lignage ioseph son pere outre mer 
iusqu'en la bloie bertaigne qui ore a nom engleterre," and II, 123, 
etc., gives a full account of how the passage is effected ; how the 
Grail-bearers are sent first, and supported through the water by 
its power ; how, when Josephe takes off his shirt, and his father 
Joseph puts his foot upon it, it swells until it holds 250 persons. 
These two accounts agree better with that of A HA, Pseudo- 
Gauticr, than with any of the others ; indeed, a passage in the latter 
(v. 125-29), which tells how Joseph committed the portrait of our 
Lord, made by Verrine, to the mercy of the sea, may have given 
the hint for the miraculous shirt story of the Grand St. Graal. 
In this version, too, as in D, Queste, we first hear of the passage to 
England, and then the Grail appears at the miraculous feeding of 
the travellers. The versions thus fall into two clearly-defined 
groups, Joseph being the Grail-bearer in the one, Brons in the 
latter. The latter class is represented by the Metrical Joseph and 
the Didot- Perceval alone, if we except the Berne MS. form of a 
portion of the Conte du Graal, which, in its finish, has obviously 
copied the Metrical Joseph. To the former class belong all the 
other versions. Nay, more, one of the prose forms of Borron's 
poems- is interpolated, so as to countenance the Joseph-account of 
the bringing of the Grail to England. Moreover, Borron's account 
of the whole transaction is ambiguous and obscure ; at first Alain 
is the destined hero, long passages being devoted to him, and the 
keeping of the mystic vessel being expressly reserved to him. 
Yet he leaves, quite quietly, nothing more being heard 06 him, 
and the same machinery of angelic messages is set in motion for 
Brons, to whom, henceforth, the chief role is assigned. Does not 
this show that there were from the outlet two accounts of the 


evangelisation of Britain, one, attributing it to Joseph, of wider 
popularity, and followed solely by the majority of the romances, 
whilst Borron, who gave greater prominence to the other account, 
has maladroitly tried to fuse the two into one ? In any case_it 
would be remarkable were the legend of purely Christian origin, 
and were the Metrical Joseph its earliest form, and source of the 
other forms, that its testimony on such an important point should 
be contradicted by nearly every other version. 

Do the foregoing facts throw any light upon the question 
whether the two sections of the romance are originally indepen- 
dent, and which is the earlier ? It is the later forms of the Quest 
alone which mention Joseph. But if he be really the older of the 
two personages to whom, in the Early History, the evangelisation 
of Britain is attributed, this would of itself go a long way to 
proving that the two portions of the romance only came into 
contact at a late stage of their development, and that the Quest is 
the older. It is otherwise if Brons be looked upon as the original 
Grail-bringer ; the same causes which led to his exclusion from 
the other versions of the Early History might have kept him out 
of most versions of the Quest, and his presence in one Quest version 
could be claimed as a proof of the homogeneity of the romance. 
For the present, it is sufficient to mark the fact that what may be 
called the Brons form of the Early History is in a minority. 

The Grail-Keeper and his relationship to the Promised Knight. 

In the A versions the Grail-keeper is the Fisher King, uncle to 
the hero of the Quest, Perceval. The relationship is first plainly 
put in Chrestien, where the hermit, speaking to Perceval of the 
Grail, says 

Oil qui Ten sert, il est mes frere 

Ma sceur et soie fu ta mere, 

Et del rice Pesc6our croi 

Que il est fins a celui roi 

Qui del Graal servir se fait. (7,789-94) 

The origin of his name is fully explained in the passage (v. 
4,685-98), which tells of his being wounded in battle by a lance- 
thrust through his two thighs, of his sufferings, and of his only 


solace being fishing from a boat. How the Grail came into his 
possession C does not say. Gautier has no occasion to mention 
these facts, but from Manessier we learn that Joseph, having con- 
verted the land, died therein; that the Fisher King is of his seed, 
and that if God wills the Grail will never have its dwelling else- 
where than with him (35,130-36) ; that he, the Fisher King, had a 
brother, Goon Desert, treacherously slain by Partinal, who broke 
his sword in the murderous act. Goon's body and the fragments 
of the sword being brought by his niece to the Fisher King, he 
wounds himself with them, "parmi les gambes en traviers," and 
may not be healed until a knight should come to weld the frag- 
ments together and avenge his brother's death. 

Pseudo-Gautier tells how Joseph, dying, prays that the Grail 
may remain with his descendants 

Si fist il, c'est verite fine, 
Qu' aprs sa mort n'en ot sesine 
Nus horn, taiit fust de son lignage 
Se il ne fu del haut parage. 
Li riches Pescheor, por voir, 
En f u estret et tuit si oir 
Et des suens fu Greloguevaus 
Ausi en refu Percevaus. (183-90) 

Manessier disagrees, it will have been noticed, with Chrestien 
respecting the cause of the Fisher King's wound, and neither he 
nor the other continuators of Chrestien make any mention of that 
enigmatic personage the Fisher King's father, so casually alluded 
to by Chrestien (v. 7,791-99). Perceval according to them is a 
direct descendant of Joseph, Brons being as entirely ignored here 
as in the transport of the Grail to England. 

In the B versions the Grail-keeper is Brons, and the Promised 
Knight is his son or grandson, for a close examination again 
shows that two varying accounts have been embodied in one 
narrative. In the passage where the Holy Ghost, speaking to 
Joseph, tells him of the empty place to be left at the table he is to 
make, the following lines occur : 

Oil lius estre empliz ne pourra 
Devant qu' Enygeus avera 


Un enfant de Bron sen mari, 

Que tu et ta suer amez si ; 

Et quant li enfes sera nez, 

La sera ses lius asseiiez j (2,531-37) 

followed closely by the prose versions: B II, Cange MSS., "ne 
icil leux ne pourra estre ampliz tant que le filz Bron et Anysgeus 
ne 1'accomplisse " (I, 254); B III, Didot MS., "Cist leus ne 
porra mie estre ampliz devant ce que li fist Bron I'ampleisse 
(I, 316). But afterwards a fresh account appears; in the second 
message of the Holy Ghost, Joseph is told : 

Que cist luis empliz ne sera 

Devant que li tierz hoiis venra 

Qui descendra de ten lignage 

Et istera de ten parage, 

Et Hebruns le doit engenrer 

Et Enygeus ta sueur porter ; 

Et cil qui de sen fil istra, 

Cest liu melsmes emplira. (2,789-96) 

In the corresponding passages both B II and III have the follow- 
ing significant addition, " -et I. autre (i.e., place) avoc cestui qui el 
nom de cestui sera fonde " (I, 261), " raemplira ce leu et I. autre 
qui en leu decestu isera fondez " (I, 322), which effectually disposes 
of M. Hucher's attempt (I, 254, note) to harmonise the two 
accounts by the remark that in the first one " il ne s'agit pas de 
la Table ronde ou c'est Perceval qui remplit le lieu vide." Hence- 
forth the legend follows the second account. To Alain, son of 
Brons, is revealed that 

. . . de lui doit oissir 

Un oir malle, qui doit venir. (3,091-92) 

Petrus is to wait for " le fil Alein," Brons is to wait for " le fil 
sen fil," and when he is come to give him the vessel and Grail 
(3,363-67). B II, Cange MS., again makes a characteristic 
addition to the promise to Alain " et si li di que de lui doit issir un 
oirs masles, L cui la grace de mon veissel doit repairier " (I, 267). 

C, Didot- Perceval, follows the second account of B. Perceval 
is son to Alain li Gros, grandson to Brons, the rich Fisher King, 
" et cil rois pecheors est en grant enfermetez, quar il est vieil 

home et plains de maladies" (I, 418), and nephew to the hermit, 
" mi des fiz Bron et frere Alein " (I, 448), though curiously 
enough when he tells Brons that he knows him to be father of his 
father, the latter addresses him as " bieaux nies " (I, 483), In any 
case whether B and C do or do not afford proof of a nearer 
relationship than that of grandson and grandfather between the 
Grail-keeper and the achiever of the Quest, the chronology which 
bridges over 400 years in two generations is equally fantastic. 

In D, Queste, no less than three different accounts are to be 
distinguished, corresponding certainly to three stages in the 
development of this version due to the influence of other versions 
of the legend. The earliest is that preserved in D II, the Welsh 
translation of a now lost French original. The Promised Knight 
is Galahad, son of Lancelot, grandson, on the mother's side, 
of King Pelles (ch. iv). The Grail is kept at the court of 
King Peleur (ch. Ixvii), the name of which is apparently 
Corbenic (ch. Ixiv). The Lame King is mentioned by Perceval's 
sister (ch. xlix), as a son of King Lambar, who fought with 
King Urlain and slew him, and in consequence of that blow the 
country was wasted; afterwards (ch. 1.) his lameness is set 
down to his folly in attempting to draw the magic sword, for 
which, though there was not in Christendom a better man than he, 
he was wounded with a spear through the thigh. She also speaks 
of him here as her uncle. The Grail quest is not connected in any 
way with the healing of this Lame King. In the text printed by 
Furnivall, Galahad is first introduced as Lancelot's son and Pelles' 
grandson, but when he comes to Arthur's court he bids his 
returning companion, " salues moi tous chiaus del saint hostel et 
mon oncle le roi pelles et mon aioul le ricJie pescJieour." Guinevere's 
ladies, according to this version, prophesy that Galahad will heal the 
Lame King. Along account, missing in D I, is given by the hermit 
to Lancelot of his ancestry as follows (p. 120) : Celidoine, son of 
Nasciens, had nine descendants, Warpus, Crestiens, Alain li Gros, 
Ilelyas, Jonaans, Lancelot, Ban, Lancelot him self, Galahad, in whom 
Christ will bathe himself entirely. Perceval is son of a King 
Pellehern (p. 182). The Lame King is Pelles, "que Ton apiele lo 
roi mehaignie" (p. 188) ; he is at Corbenic when Lancelot comes 

G 2 


there. When Galahad and his companions arrive at his court a sick 
man wearing a crown is brought in, who blesses Galahad as his 
deliverer. After the appearance of the Grail, Galahad heals him by 
touching his wound with the spear. The third account, from the ver- 
sion of the Queste printed with the Lancelot and the Mort Artur in 
1488, at Rouen, by Gaillardle Bourgeois,* makes Galahad send greet- 
ings to the Fisher King and to his grandfather, K ing Pelles ; it adds 
to Perceval's sister's account of how Pelles was wounded, the words, 
"he was Galahad's grandfather ;"f it adds to the account of Lance- 
lot's visit to the Grail Castle, the words, "this was Castle Corbenic, 
where the Holy Grail was kept." Before discussing these differences 
it is advisable to see what the Grand St. Graal says on these points. 
Here Alain, the Fisher King, son of Brons, is a virgin, and when 
Josephe commits the Grail to his care he empowers him to leave it 
to whom he likes (II, 360-39.) In accordance with this Alain 
leaves the Grail to his brother Josue, with the title of Fisher King. 
Josue's descendants are Aminadap,Catheloys 5 Manaal, Lambor (who 
was wounded by Bruillans with Solomon's sword, whence arose 
such a fierce war that the whole land was laid desert). ; Pelleans, 
wounded in battle in the ankle, whence he had the name Lame King, 
Pelles, upon whose daughter Lancelot begets Galahad, who is thus, 
on the mother's side, ninth in descent from Brons, brother to 
Joseph. Galahad's descent is likewise given from Celidome, son of 
Nasciens, as follows : Marpus, Nasciens, Alains li Gros, Ysaies, 
Jonans, Lancelot, Bans, Lancelot, Galahad, who in thus counting 
Celidoine is tenth in descent from Nasciens, Joseph's companion, 
(vol. ii, ch. xxxix.) So far the story is fairly consistent, although 
there is a difference of one generation between father's and 
mother's genealogy. But ch. 17, in a very important passage, 

* The version summarised by Bircli-Hirschfeld. 

f Curiously enough this very text here prints Urban as the name of the 
Maimed King ; Urban is the antagonist of Lambar, the father of the Maimed 
King in the original draft of the Queste, and his mention in this place in Ihe 
1438 text seems due to a misprint. In the episode there is a direct conflict of 
testimony between the first and second drafts, Lambar slaving Urlain in the 
former, Urlain Lambar in the latter. 

J This account agrees with that of the second draft of the Queste, in which 
Urlain slays Lambar. 


introduces a different account. The angel is expounding to 
Josephe and Nasciens the marvels of the lance ; to Josephe he says, 
" de cheste lance dont tu as este ferus ; ne sera iamis ferus ke vns 
seus horn. Et chil sera rois, et descendra de ton lignaige, si serra li 
daerrains des boins. Chil en sera ferus parmi les cuisses arnbedeus," 
and will not be healed till the Good Knight come, " et chil . . 
serra li daerrains horn del lignaige nascieu. Et tout ausi com 
nasciens a este li premiers horn qui les meruelles du graal a veues ; 
autresi sera chil li daerrains qui les verra.* Car die dist li urais 
crucefis. ' Au premier home du precieus lignaige, et au daerrain, ai 
iou deuise a demonstrer mes meruelles.' Et si dist enchore apres. 
' Sour le premier et sour le daerrain de mes menistres nouuiaus qui 
sont enoint et sacre a mon plaisir, espanderai iou la veniauche de 
la lanche auentureuse ' (I, 216-17), i.e., the last of Josephe's line 
shall be the only man wounded by the lance, the last of Nasciens' 
line shall be the deliverer. But according to Galahad's genealogy, 
given above, it is not the last of Josephe's line (represented by his 
cousin Josue) who is the Wounded King, for Galahad himself is as 
much the last in descent from Josephe as from Nasciens, and even 
if we take the words to apply only to the direct male descendants 
of Josue, there is still a discrepancy, as not Pelles, but Pelleant, 
his father, is the " roi mehaignies." If the Wounded King were 
really the last of Josephe's line, i.e., Pelles, Galahad would be 
his grandson, as Percival is to Brons. Taking the two versions 
D. and E. together, some idea may be gathered from them 
of the way in which the legend has grown, and of the shifts to 
which the later harmonisers were put in their attempts to reconcile 
divergent accounts. In the first draft of the Qucste, Galahad has 
nothing to do with the Lame King, the latter remains Perceval's 
uncle, the very relationship obtaining in Chrestien. Galahad has 
supplanted Perceval, but has not stepped into the place entirely. 
The second draft of the Queste endeavours to remedy this by 
clumsily introducing the Lame King and his healing, missing in the 
first draft, into the great Grail scene at the end, an idea foreign 

* Only one beholder of the Quest is alluded to, although in the Queste, 
from which the Grand St. Graal drew its account, three hehold the wonders of 
the Grail. 


to the original author of the Queste, who, having broken with 
Perceval as chief hero, also broke with the distinctive Quest 
incident as far as the chief hero is concerned. But a strange 
blunder is committed ; the second draft, anxious to make Galahad's 
grandfather both Fisher and Lame King, actually speaks of Pelles 
as Galahad's uncle, in direct contradiction to its own indication. 
The third draft corrects this mistake, and tries by different 
explanatory interpolations to confirm the relationship of Galahad to 
the Lame King, and the identity of his castle with the Grail 
Castle. The author of the Grand St. Graal now appears on the 
scene, appropriates the story about King Lambar, father to the 
Lame King, Percival's uncle, makes him an ancestor of Galahad, 
and gives a name to his son, Pelleant (which name creeps back 
into the second draft of the Queste as that of Perceval's father), and 
thus derives Galahad on the mother's side from Brons, although it 
escapes him that he thus gives the lie to the prophecy which he 
puts in the angel's mouth, that it is the last of Josephe's seed who 
is to be lamed by the lance, and that he has not given his Lambor 
fictitious ancestors enough to equalize the genealogies. 

We are thus led back to the relationship of uncle and nephew 
as the earliest subsisting between the Grail King and the achiever 
of the Quest, and we find in those versions which supplant 
Perceval by Galahad a story told of the former's great uncle, King 
Lambar, by no means unlike that told of his uncle in the A versions, 
and that there, as here, the cause of the woe brought upon the 
hero's family is one of the magic talismans which the hero is in 
quest of and by means of which he is to achieve his quest. We 
further notice that in so far as the Early History influences the 
Quest forms, it is the later versions in which its influence is appa- 
rent, and it is the Joseph, not the Brons form, which exercises this 
influence. Not until we come to the Grand St. Graal, an obvious 
and bold attempt to embody previous versions in one harmonious 
whole, does the Brons form make itself felt. 

Work of the Promised Knight. 

In Chrestien we can only guess at what the results of the 
successful achievement of the Quest would have been by the 


reproaches addressed to the hero upon the failure of his first 
visits to the Grail Castle ; he would have mended all things, and 

Le bon roi ki est mehaignie's ; 

Que tons eust regaengnies 

Ses membres, et tiere tenist, 

Et si grans bien en avenist ; (4,763-67) 

many evils will flow from his failure, and the cause of it is the sin 
he has committed in leaving his mother, who thereupon died of 
grief (4,768-71) ; again the Loathly Damsel reproaches him that the 
Rich King would have been healed of his wound, he would have 
kept in peace his land, which he never may again, for now 

Dames en perdront lor maris 

Tieres en seront essilies, 

Et pucieles deconsellies ; 

Orfenes, veves en remanront 

Et maint Chevalier en niorront. (6,056-60) 

Gautier de Doulens gives a vivid description of the effect of 
Ga wain's partially successful visit to the Grail King; the character 
of the landscape changes at once 

N'estoit pas plus que mienuis, 

Le soir devant, que Dex avoit 

Reiidu issi com il devoit 

As aiges lor cors el pais ; 

Et tout li bos, ce m'est avis, 

Eefurent en verdor trove, 

Si tos com il ot demande 

For coi si sainnoit en 1'anstier 

La lance ; si devoit puplier 

Li re^gnes ; mais plus ne pupla 

Por tant que plus ne demanda. (20,344-55) 

All the country folk both bless and curse Gawain. 

Sire, niors nous as et garis, 

Tu dois estre lies et maris ; 

Car grant aise nos as done", 

S'eii devons tout mercier D6 ; 

Et si te devons moult hair 

Pour con que iiel vosis oir 

Le Greail, por coi il servoit, 

Ne de la joie ki devoit 

La venir ne poroit nus dire, 

Si en doit avoir duel et ire. (20,357-66) 


In Manessier, when Perceval has finally accomplished the 
Quest by the slaying of Partinal, and has come for the third time 
to the Grail Castle (though even then he only reaches it after 
long wanderings and lights upon it by chance), news whereof is 
brought to the King ; 

Li rois, a grant joie et grant feste 

Est maintenant salis en pie's 

Et se senti sain et haities. (44,622-24) 

Perceval is crowned King after his uncle's death, and reigns 
for seven years. 

Thus, in the A versions, the healing of the Maimed King, and 
the consequent restoration to fertility and prosperity of his land, 
such are the tasks to be achieved by the hero of the Quest. In 
the B versions an entirely different series of conceptions is met 
with. Brons, the Fisher King, is to wait for his grandson, and to 
hand him the vessel which he received from Joseph. When this 
is done the meaning of the Trinity is to be known * 

Lors sera la senefiance 

Accoraplie et la demonstrance 

De la benoite Trinite, 

Qu'avons en trois parz devisee. (3,371-74) 

Besides this, the Promised Knight is to visit Petrus, who may 
not pass away till he comes, and from whom he is to learn the 
power of the vessel, and the fate of Moys (v. t3,127-36). Finally, 
when he comes he is to fill the empty seat, and to find Moys, of 
whom it is said 

De lui plus ne pallera-on 

Ne en fable ne en chanon, 

Devant que cil revenra 

Qui li liu vuit raemplira : 

Cil-m6ismes le doit trouver. (2,815-19) 

Here the only indication which can possibly be tortured into a 
hint of the waiting of a sick king for his deliverer is the reference 
to Petrus. It is not a little remarkable that when the latter is 

* This, of course, belongs to the second of the two accounts we have found 
in the poem respecting the Promised Knight, the one which makes him the 
grandson and not the son merely of Brons. 


leaving for England, he asks for the prayers of the company that 
he may not fall into sin, and lose the love of God (v. 3320-35) 
Does this presuppose a version in which he does sin, and is conse- 
quently punished by disease, from which only the Promised Knight 
may heal him ? 

On turning to C, a totally distinct account of what the Quest 
achiever is to do presents itself. He seats himself, it is true, in 
the empty seat, but it goes nigh with him that he suffers the fate 
of Moys, from which he is only preserved by the great goodness of 
his father, Alain (p. 427). He does not find Moys ; Petrus is not 
once mentioned by name, nor does Perceval visit anyone who may 
not die till he come, and from whom he learns the power of the 
vessel, saving always the Fisher King, for the references to whom 
see supra, p. 83. This Fisher King is "veil home et plains de 
maladies, ne il n'aura james sante devant un chevalier que ya a 
la Table ronde aserra, sera prodons vers Deu et vers sainte eglise et 
ait fait tant d'armes que il soit le plus alosez del monde. Et lors 
vendra a la maison au riche roi pecheor et quant il aura demande 
de quoi li Graus sert, tantost sera li roi gariz de de sa'nfermete et 
cherront li enchentement de Bretaigne et sera la prophetic accom- 
plie " (p. 419). Again, p. 427 "li riches rois pecheors est cheuz 
en grant maladie et en grant enfermete, ne il peust morir devant 
que uns de XXX chevalier, qui ci sunt asis, ait tant fait d'armes 
et de chevalerie qu'il soit li mieudres chevalier del monde." 
Again, p. 427, " Et quant il (i.e., the Fisher King) sera gariz, si ira, 
dedanz li III jorz, de vie a mort, et baillera a celui chevalier, le 
vesseau et li aprendra le segroites paroles qui li aprist Joseph ; et 
lors ampliz de la grace du Sainct Esprit et cherront li enchente- 
ment de la Bretaigne et les afaires." Again, when Perceval has 
come for the second time to the Fisher King's, and has asked the 
question and learnt the secret words, he remained there " et moult 
fust prodons et cheirent les enchentement de la terre de Bretaigne 
et par tout le monde." Here, then, are the Sick King, the 
mysterious question, the healing, and the effect upon the land 
(note how the enchantments of Britain are insisted upon), as in the 
A versions. The only points of contact with B are that Brons is 
like Petrus in not being able to die till Perceval come, and that his 


infirmity seems to be ascribed mainly to his age, and not to a 
wound, which at first sight seems to agree better with the vague 
indications of B than with the positive statement of A. 

Two accounts, each fairly definite and consistent, are thus 
forthcoming respecting the object of the Quest, the one repre- 
sented by A and C, the other by B. What light is thrown upon 
the matter by the remaining versions, and which of these two 
accounts do they support ? Neither from the Queste, D, nor from 
the Grand St. Graal, E, can any clear conception of the Quest be 
gathered. Both have a great deal to say about the adventures 
and the wonders of the Grail, but absolutely nothing comes of the 
achievement so far as the Grail itself, or as Galahad and his two 
companions are concerned. It goes to the East, they with it, they 
become hermits and die. But in proportion as the main object of 
the Quest becomes less definite, the number o x f secondary objects 
increases. In D, Queste, Galahad is to achieve the adventure of 
the Seat Perillous (ch. iii, iv) ; he is to wear the shield left by 
Joseph to Mordrains (ch. x) ; he is to release from life Mordrains 
himself, struck with blindness for approaching too near the Grail 
(ch. xxiii) ; he (according to the second draft of the Queste), is 
to release King Pelles (his grandfather, according to draft 3), 
wounded through both ankles for trying to draw the sword ; he is to 
release Simei, burning in a fiery grave for that he once sinned 
against Joseph of Arimathea (ch. Lxvi). To this sufficiently 
long list the Grand St. Graal adds the resoldering of the sword 
broken by Joseph " Ha espee, iamais ne sera resaudee deuant ke 
chil te tenra qui les hautes auentures del Saint Graal devra 
asoumir" (II, 264); the delivery of Moys from out the furnace 
where he burns, not for always "ains trouuera enchore merchi et 
pardon. Mais che qu'il a mesfait, espaxiira il en tel maiiiere qu'il 
en sera en fu iusc' a tant ke li boines chiualiers uenra (II, 277). 
Moys likewise speaks of Galahad as one who " achieura les auen- 
tures de la grant bertaigne " (II, 279-80) . Finally, Pelleur wounded 
(mehaignies de ii cuisses) "en vne bataille de rome " is to be 
released, "il ne peut garir de la plaie deuant ke galaad, li tres boins 
chiualers, le vint visiter. Mais lors sans faille gari il " (II, p. 373). 
The Queste knows nothing of Petrus, but in the Grand St. Graal 


he turns up at the end in the same casual way as Brons, and converts 
King Luces (II, 3356-3), i.e. is thus brought into connection with 
Geoffrey of Monmouth's form of the conversion of Britain legend. 

The foregoing statement confirms all that has previously been 
urged as to the lateness of both Queste and Grand St. Graal. 
The author of the former again shows himself a daring, but not 
over skilful, adapter of older legends, the author of the latter 
an unintelligent compiler, whose sole aim it is to lengthen out his 
story by the introduction of every incident he can lay his hands 
upon. But although late, they may nevertheless throw light upon 
the question which, of the two strongly differentiated accounts of 
the object of the Grail quest which have been noted, has the better 
claim to be looked upon as the older one. The Conte du Graal and 
the Didot- Perceval agree, as has been seen, against the Metrical 
Joseph, in making the main object of the Grail-seeker the healing 
of a maimed or the release from life of a supernaturally old King. 
This motif, it is not too much to say, is the pivot upon which in 
the Conte du Graal all turns ; in the Metrical Joseph it is barely 
hinted at. 

The Queste, if looked at closely, is found to bear witness to the 
Conte du Graal form. As is seen from the summary (supra, p. 41, 
Inc. 12) it has the very incident upon which so much stress is laid 
in Chrestien's poem, the visit to the Sick King, the omitted ques- 
tion, the consequent misfortune. True, all this has been transferred 
from the original hero, Perceval, to the father of the new hero 
Galahad, and, true, the final object which the Queste proposes, in so 
far as it proposes any definite object, to its Grail-seeker is of a 
different character. But the fact that this object is not stated in 
the same way as in the Metrical Joseph, whilst that found in the 
Conte du Graal is embodied though in a different connexion, points 
unmistakably to what may be called the healing motif as the older 
one. Here, again, the Metrical Joseph is in a minority, and it is 
riot even followed by that very version, the Didot-Perceval, which 
has been ascribed to the same author, and claimed as an integral 
portion of the same trilogy.* 

* The object of the Quest according to Heinrich yon dem Tiirlin will be found 
dealt with in Chapter VII. 


Qualifications of the Promised Knight. 

Neither Chrestien, Gautier, nor Manessier lay any stress upon 
special qualifications in the quest-hero for the achievement of his 
task. In Chrestien, as already stated, (supra, p. 87), it is exclusively 
the sin of which Perceval has been guilty in leaving his mother 
which prevents his achieving the Quest at his first visit to the 
Grail Castle (v. 4.768-71 and 7,766-74), whilst the continuator 
make no attempt at any explanation of the hero's repeated 
failures. Not until Gerbert does a fresh motif show itself in the 
poem, but then it is a remarkable one; if Perceval has been 
hitherto unable to attain the goal he has so long striven for, it is 
because he has been unfaithful to his first love, Blanchefleur 
(VI, p. 182) ; he must return and wed her before he is fit to 
learn the full secret of the Grail.* 

The other Quest versions are on this point in striking contrast 
to Chrestien. The words of C, Didot-Perceval, have already been 
noted, (supra, p. 89). Again the damsel, reproaching the hero after 
his first failure, addresses him thus : " Mes je sai bien por- quoi 
tu 1' as perdu, por ceque tu ni es pas si sage ne si vaillant, ne n'as pas 
fet tant d'armes ; ne n'ies si prodons que tu doies avoir le sane 
nostre (sire) en guarde " (p. 467). 

It is significant to note in this connection that it is only after 
Perceval has overcome all the best knights of the Round Table, 
including Gawain (the companion hero, as will be shown later, of 
the oldest form of the story), and thereby approved himself the 
best knight of the world, that Merlin appears and directs him to the 
Grail Castle. f The talk about Holy Church would seem to be an 
addition, and the original ideal a purely physical one. 

In the Queste the qualification of the hero has become the 

* This is one of a remarkable series of points of contact between Grerbert 
and Wolfram von Eschenbach. 

f It almost looks as if the author of C were following here a version 
in which the hero only has to go once to the Grail Castle ; nothing is said 
about Perceval's first unsuccessful visit, and Merlin addresses Perceval as if he 
were telling him for the first time about, matteis concerning which he must 
be already fully instructed. 


main feature of the legend, the pivot upon which everything turns. 
The one thing necessary is that the hero should be a virgin, and the 
story is one long glorification of the supreme virtue of chastity. 
Yet even here the warlike deeds of Galahad are dwelt upon in a 
way that points to a different ideal. Traces, though slight ones, 
may be found in C, Didot- Perceval, of the importance attached to 
the chastity of the hero ; thus his hermit uncle admonishes him, 
" ne vous chaille de gesir aveuc fame, quar cest un peche luxurious 
et bien sachiez, que la pichie que vous avez fait, vous ont neu a 
trover la maison Bron," and in the adventure with the damsel of the 
hound, although he had (p. 440) solicited her favours, and she had 
promised them if he brought her the head of the white stag, yet 
(p. 470) when he returns to her and she offers herself to him, he 
pleads his quest as a reason for not even passing one night with 
her. In Gautier de Doulens, on the contrary, everything passes 
in accordance with the orthodox custom of the day when knights 
were as punctual in demanding as ladies scrupulous in granting 
the fulfilment of such bargains. But here, again, references to 
chastity seem to be additions, and rather unskilful ones, whilst 
in the Queste they are the vital spirit of the story. 

What results from the foregoing is much as follows : 
The Perceval form of the Quest is certainly the older of the two, 
and underlies in reality the Galahad form. When cleared from the 
admixture of Christian mystic elements it appears as a coherent and 
straightforward story, in which nothing necessarily presupposes 
the Early History. The influence of the latter is, however, distinctly 
traceable. As far as Chrestien himself is concerned, nothing can 
be asserted with certainty as to the origin, extent, and nature of 
that influence ; in the case of his continuators it can be definitely 
referred to that form of the Early History which is represented by 
the Queste and the Grand St. Graal (save in the solitary instance of 
the Berne fragment of Gautierde Doulens). The later in date the 
sections of the Conte dn Graal, the more strongly marked is the 
influence of the Early History, and pari passu the increasing 
prominence given to the Christian mystic side of the Grail. 

Of the Early History two forms can be distinguished. In the 
one, Joseph and the group of persons whom he converts in the East 


are made tlie means of bringing Christianity to Britain. The Grail 
is dwelt upon almost solely in its most material aspect. This form 
is closely connected with the Galahad Quest, and its chronology 
has been elaborately framed to correctly bridge over the difference 
in time between the Apostolic and Arthurian ages. It has also 
affected, as remarked above, the later versions of the Perceval Quest. 
The second or Brons form knows nothing of the companions of 
Joseph, who is only indirectly the means of the conversion of 
Britain, the real evangelists being kinsmen of his who bear decided 
Celtic names. These kinsmen are related as grandfather and 
father (or simply father or uncle), to a hero whose exploits are 
to be dealt with in a sequel. There is strong insistence upon the 
spiritual character of the Grail, which is obviously intended to play 
an important part in the promised sequel. No traces of this form 
are to be found in any version (saving always the above-mentioned 
fragment of Gautier), until we come to the Grand St. Graal, with 
which such portions as do not conflict with the Joseph form are 

The Didot-Perceval, although formally in contact with the Brons 
Early History, is not really the sequel announced in that work. 
It differs profoundly from it in the most essential feature of the story, 
the nature of the task laid upon the hero. Upon examination this 
appears to be of the same nature as that of the Conte du Graal, with 
a seasoning of the Christian mystic element. It was, however, 
intended for a sequel to the Metrical Joseph, a fact which may 
be taken as a proof that Borron never completed his plan of a 
Joseph-Merlin-Grail trilogy of which we possess the first two 

The first of the two points marked for investigation at the 
outset of this chapter may thus be considered settled. The Quest is 
originally independent of and older than the Early History. And 
although in no instance can the versions of the former be said to 
be entirely free from the influence of the latter, yet in the older 
forms the traces are such as to be easily separated from the primi- 
tive elements of the story. 

The versions which have been examined may now be arranged 
in the following order : 




(1) Chrestien's portion of the Conte du Graal. The oldest 

form of the Perceval Quest, but presupposing an Early 

(2) Gautier de Doulens followed Chrestien, in all probability, 

almost immediately. Even less can be gathered from him 
than from Chrestien respecting the earliest form of the 
Early History, but this is probably represented by 

(3) Pseudo- Gautier, which in all likelihood gives the outline 

of the work made use of by Queste and Grand St. Graal. 
Pseudo- Gautier is almost certainly some years later than 
Gautier, as the Berne MS. scribe found it necessary to 
seek for information in 

(4) Borron's poem, probably written towards the end of the 

twelfth century, but which for some reason remained 
unknown for a time, although it afterwards, as evidenced 
by the number of MSS., became popular. There is 
every reason to believe that Borron knew nothing of any 
other Early History. His work, as we have it, is abridged 
and arranged. Meanwhile 

(5) Queste had appeared. The author probably used the same 

Early History as Pseudo- Gautier. He knew the Conte du 
Graal, and wrote in opposition to it with a view to edifica- 
tion. He certainly knew nothing of Borron's poem, or he 
could not have failed, with his strong mystical tendencies, 
to dwell upon the spiritual and symbolic character of the 

(6) The Grand St. Graal, an earlier draft of the work, now 

known under that title. Probably an enlarged version of 
the hypothetical original Early History ; wanting all the 
latter portions relating to Brons and his group, which 
were added to it when Borron's poem became known. 
This work must have appeared before 1204 (in which year 
it is referred to by Helinandus), and, as Chrestien wrote 
his poem about 1189-90, it follows that at least half-a- 
dozen works belonging to the Grail cycle came out in the 
last twelve years of the twelfth century. 

(7) Manessier and 


(8) Gerbert brought out independent endings to the Conte du 

Graal from 1216 to 1225. It was probably shortly after 
this time that Borron's poem became known, and that it 
was incorporated with the Grand St. Graal, which assumed 
the shape under which it has come down to us. 

(9) The Didot-Perceval is probably the latest in date of all the 

members of the cycle. 

Before proceeding to examine our second point, which is whether 
the Grail itself really belongs to the original form of the Quest, or 
has been introduced into the Quest versions from the Early History, 
it will be advisable to summarise the opinions and researches of 
previous investigators. Light will thus be thrown upon many 
points of interest which have not received special examination in 
these pages. A theory of the origin and development of the cycle, 
which is in many respects directly opposed to the conclusions we 
have reached, will also be fully set forth, and an opportunity will 
thus be given for testing by adverse criticism the soundness of our 
method of investigation, and of the results to which it has led us. 




Villemarqu<3 Halliwell San Marte (A. Schulz) Simrock Rochat 
Furnivall's reprint of the Grand St. Graal and of Borron J. F. Camp- 
bell Furnivall's Queste Paulin Paris Potvin's Conte du Graal 
Bergmann Skeat's Joseph of Arimathea Hucher : Grail Celtic, date 
of Borron Zarncke, Zur Geschichte der Gralsage ; Grail belongs to 
Christian legend Birch-Hirschfeld develops Zarncke's views : Grand 
St. Graal younger than Queste, both presuppose Chrestien and an 
earlier Queste, the Didot-Perceval, which forms integral part of 
Borron's trilogy ; Mabinogi later than Chrestien ; various members of 
the cycle dated Martin combats Birch-Hirschfeld : Borron later than 
Chrestien, whose poem represents oldest stage of the romance, which 
has its roots in Celtic tradition Hertz Criticism of Birch-Hirschfeld. 

MONSIEUR TH. DE LA VILLEMARQUE"'S researches form a convenient 
starting point, both on account of the influence they exercised 
upon later investigation, and because he was the first to state with 
fulness and method the arguments for the Celtic origin of the 
legend. They appeared originally in the volume entitled " Contes 
populaires des anciens Bretons precedes d'un essai sur 1'origine des 
epopees chevaleresques de la Table Ronde " (Paris, 1842), and com- 
prising a French translation of the Mabinogion of Geraint and 
Peredur, with introductory essays and detailed explanatory notes. 
The translation of Peredur is preceded by a study of Chrestien's 
poem, in which the following conclusions are stated : The Grail is 
Celtic in origin, the French term being equivalent to the Welsh 
per, and having a like meaning, basin. It is the Druidic basin 
alluded to by Taliessin, the same which figures in the Mabinogi 
of Branwen, which appears in the oldest folk-tales of Brittany, and 
which is sought for in the twelfth century Mabinogi by Peredur, 
i.e., the Basin-Seeker. The original occult character of the Druidic 
basin, and of the lance, the bardic symbol of undying hatred to 



the Saxon, disappears in the Mabinogi, the tone and character 
of which are purely romantic. Composed among a people compara- 
tively unused to the chivalrous ideal, it breathes, however, a rude 
and harsh spirit. But such as it is, it forms the groundwork of 
Chresti en's poem. Comparison between the two demonstrates the 
simple character of the Welsh romance, and shows how the French 
poet sought to transform it by an infusion of feudal courtliness and 
religious mysticism. In its last stage of development the story 
reverts to its pristine, occult, and mystic character. 

Much of what M. de la Villemarque says is sound and telling ; 
but, unfortunately, although well aware that the French poem is 
the work of three men and not of one, he yet treats it as an organic 
whole, and thus deprives the larger part of his comparison of all 
value. Moreover, he supports his thesis by arguments based upon 
a Breton poem (the story of which is similar to that of Perceval's 
youth), ascribed without the shadow of evidence to the end of the 
tenth century. 

In 1861 M. de la Villemarque reprinted his work with extensive 
additions, under the title of " Les Romans de la Table Ronde et les 
Contes des Anciens Bretons." The section summarised above re- 
mained substantially unaltered, but considerable extension was 
given to the author's views concerning the mode of development 
of the romances. The points chiefly insisted upon are : the simi- 
larity of metre between the Welsh poem and the French metrical 
romances ; the delight of the Plantagenet kings in the Welsh 
traditions and the favour showed them ; and the early popularity of 
the Welsh and Breton singers. Villemarque's last word upon the 
subject is that the Welsh storytellers received from the ancient 
bards a pagan tradition, which, changed in character and con- 
founded with the Mystery of the Sacrament, they handed on to 
the romance writers of Northern France and Germany, who gave 
it a fresh and undying life. 

Villemarque's views were worked up by Mr. Baring Gould in 
his essay en the Sangreal (" Curious Myths of the Middle Ages," 
18G7) and in this form or in their original presentment won wide 
acceptance as the authoritative exposition of the Celtic origin of 
the cycle. 


In England, Mr. Halliwell, when editing, in 1844, the Thornton 
Sir Perceval, derived it from Chrestien and his contimiators, 
in spite of the omission of Lance and Grail, on account of the 
sequence of incidents being the same. The Mabinogi is alluded to 
as an adaptation of Chrestien. The supposition that Perceval's 
nick-name, " le Gallois," implies the Welsh origin of the story is 
rejected as absurd. 

In Germany the Grail-cycle formed the subject of careful 
investigation on the part of San Marte (A. Schulz) for some years 
prior to 1840. From 1836 to 1842 he brought out a modern 
German translation of Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival, accom- 
panied by an elaborate essay on the genesis of the legend, and in 
1841, " Die Arthur-Sage und die Mahrchen des rothen Buchs von 
Hergest." In the latter work a careful analysis of the Mabinogi 
leads to the following conclusions : Locale and persons are purely 
Welsh ; tone and character are older than the age of the Crusades 
and Knighthood ; it may be looked upon with confidence as the 
oldest known source of the Perceval sage. In comparing the 
Mabinogi with Kiot's (i.e., Wolfram's) version, stress is laid upon 
the task imposed upon Peredur, which is held to be different in 
character and independent in origin from the Grail Quest in Kiot. 
The Thornton Sir Perceval is claimed as the representative of an 
early Breton jongleur poem which knew nothing of the Grail 
story. In the former work Wolfram von Eschenbach's poem is 
accepted, so far as its framework is concerned, as a faithful echo 
of Kiot's, the Provencal origin of which is proved by its Oriental 
and Southern allusions. The Provencals may have obtained the 
Peredur sage direct from Brittany, they at any rate fused it with 
the Grail legend. Their version is an artistic whole, whereas the 
North French one is a confused string of adventures. Chrestien 's 
share in the latter is rightly distinguished from that of his con- 
tinuators, and these are dated with fair accuracy. Robert de 
Borron is mentioned, but as a thirteenth century adapter of earlier 
prose versions ; the Grand St. Graal is placed towards the middle 
of the thirteenth century. In analysing the Joseph of Arimathea 
form of the legend, the silence of the earlier British historians 
concerning Joseph's evangelisation of Britain is noted, and 1140 is 

H 2 


given as the earliest date of this part of the legend. The captivity of 
Joseph arises probably from a confusion between him and Josephus. 
There is no real connection between the Joseph legend and that 
of the Grail. Wolfram's Templeisen agree closely with the 
Templars, one of the main charges against whom was their alleged 
worship of a head from which they expected riches and victuals, 
and to which they ascribed the power of making trees and flowers 
to bloom.* 

San Marte's translation of Wolfram was immediately (1842) 
followed by Simrock's, whose notes are mainly directed against 
his predecessor's views on the origin and development of the Grail 
legend. The existence of Kiot is contested ; the differentia between 
Wolfram and Chrestien are unknown to Provencal, but familiar to 
German, poetry. The Grail myth in its oldest form is connected 
with John the Baptist. Thus in the Mabinogi the Grail is repre- 
sented by a head in a platter ; the head the Templars were accused 
of worshipping has probably the same origin ; the Genoese pre- 
served the Sacro Catino, identified by them with the Grail, in the 
chapel of St. John the Baptist ; Chrestien mentions with especial 
significance, St. John's Eve (Midsummer Eve). The head of St. 
John the Baptist, found, according to the legend, in the fourth 
century, was carried later to Constantinople, where in the eleventh 
century it is apparently used to keep an emperor from dying 
(even as of the Grail, it is told, no one could die the day he saw 
it). If Wolfram cuts out the references to the Baptist, en 
revanche he brings Prester John into the story. The essential 
element in the Grail is the blood in the bowl, symbol of creative 
power as is the Baptist's head, both being referable to the summer 
equinox. Associated with John the Baptist is Herodias, who takes 
the place of an old Germanic goddess, Abundia, as John does of 
Odin or Baldur.f The essence of the myth is the reproductive 
power of the blood of the slain god (Odin-Hackelberend, Baldur, 

* It is remarkable, considering the scanty material at his disposal, how 
accurate Schulz' analysis is, and how correct much of his argumentation. 

f Wagner lias admirably utilised this hint of Simrock's in his Parsifal, when 
his Kundry (the loathly damsel of Chrestien and the Mabinogi) is Herodias. 
Cf. infra, Ch. X. 


Adonis, Osiris). As the Grail may only be seen by those to whom 
God's grace is granted, so in the German folk-tale the entrance to 
the hollow mounds wherein lies treasure or live elves is only 
visible to Sunday children or pure youths. Thus, too, no man 
may find the grave of Hackelberg (Odin). Such caves, when 
entered, close upon the outgoing mortal as the Grail Castle portcullis 
closes upon Parzival. Many of Gauvain's adventures appear in 
German folk- tradition. As to Parzival's youth " it cannot be 
doubted that we have here a variation of the Great Fool folk-tale 
(Dummling's Marchen) found among all people. It is hard to say 
what people possessing this tale brought it into contact, either by 
tradition or in writing, with the Grail story, but that people would 
have the first claim among whom it is found in an independent 
form." The Mabinogi explanation of the Grail incident is un- 
acceptable, and the Mabinogi itself is later than Chrestien, as is 
shown by its foolish invention of the witches of Gloucester, and 
by its misrendering the incident of the dwarves greeting Peredur. 
In the original folk-tale the ungainly hero was laughed at, not 
greeted. The Thornton Sir Perceval may possibly contain an 
older version of Perceval's youth than any found elsewhere. 
Wolfram's poem represents, however, the oldest and purest form 
of the Grail myth, which, originally pagan, only became fully 
Christianised in the hands of the later North French poets. 

Simrock's speculations, though marred by his standing tendency 
to claim over much for German tradition, are full of his usual acute 
and ingenious, if somewhat fanciful, learning. His ignorance of 
Celtic tradition unfortunately prevented his following up the hint 
given in the passage quoted above which I have adopted as one of 
the mottoes of the present work. 

In 1855 Rochat published (" Ueber einen bisher unbekannten 
Percheval li Gallois," Zurich) selections from a Berne MS. con- 
taining part of Gautier de Doulens' continuation of Chrestien 
(v. 21,930 to end, with thirteen introductory and fifty-six conclud- 
ing original lines, cf. p. 19), and entered at some length into the 
question of the origin and development of the Grail legend. The 
Mabinogi, contrary to San Marte's opinion, is placed after Chrestien. 
Villemarque's ballad of Morvan le Breiz is the oldest form of the 


Perceval sage, then comes the Thornton Sir Perceval, a genuine 
popular production derived probably from a Welsh original. In 
spite of what San Marte says, the Grail incident is found in the 
Mabinogi, and it might seem as if Chrestien had simply amplified 
the latter. On San Marte's theory of the (Southern) origin of 
the Grail myth, this, however, is impossible, and the fact that 
the Mabinogi contains this incident is a proof of its lateness. 

Up to 1861 all writers upon the Grail legend were under this 
disadvantage, that they had no complete text of any part of the 
cycle before them,* and were obliged to trust largely to extracts 
and to more or less carefully compiled summaries. In that year 
Mr. Fin-nival I, by the issue for the Eoxburghe Club of the Grand 
St. Graal, together with a reprint of Robert de Borron's poem (first 
edited in 1841 by M. Franc. Michel), provided students with 
materials of first-rate importance. His introductory words are 
strongly against the Celtic origin of the story, and are backed up 
by a quotation from Mr. D. W. Nash, in which that "authority 
who really knows his subject " gives the measure of his critical 
acumen by the statement that the Mabinogi of Peredur can have 
nothing to do with the earliest form of the legend, because " in Sir 
T. Malory, Perceval occupies the second place to Galahad." In 
fact, neither the editor nor Mr. Nash seems to have tried to place 
the different versions, and their assertions are thus of little value, 
though they contributed, nevertheless, to discredit the Celtic hypo- 
thesis. San Marte, in an essay prefixed to the first volume, repeated 
his well-known views respecting the source of Wolfram's poems, 
and, incidentally, protested against the idea that the Mabinogi is 
but a Welshified French romance. 

In 1862 the accomplished editor of the " Popular Tales of the 
West Highlands," Mr. J.F. Campbell, published in his second volume 
(p. 152) some remarks on the Story of the Lay of the Great Fool, 
which ended thus, " I am inclined .... to consider this 
* Lay ' as one episode in the adventures of a Celtic hero, who, in 

* Excepting, of course, the late fifteenth and early sixteeth century Paris 
imprints, which represented as a rule, however, the latest anr^ most interpolated 
forms, and Mons. Fr. Michel's edition of Borron's poem. 


the twelfth century became Perceval le chercheur du basin. He 
too, was poor, and the son of a widow, and half starved, and kept 
in ignorance by his mother, but, nevertheless ... in the end 
he became possessed of that sacred basin, le Saint Graal, and the 
holy lance, which, though Christian in the story, are manifestly 
the same as the Gaelic talismans which appear so often in Gaelic 
tales, and which have relations in all popular lore the glittering 
weapon which destroys, and the sacred medicinal cup which cures." 
I have taken these words as a motto for my studies, which are, 
indeed, but an amplification of Mr. Campbell's statement. Had the 
latter received the attention it deserved, had it, for instance, fallen 
into the hands of a scholar to whom Simrock's words quoted on 
p. 101 were familiar, there would, in all probability, have been no 
occasion for the present work. 

The publication of texts was continued by Mr. Furnivall's issue, 
in 1864, for the Roxburghe Club, of the Quete del Saint Graal from 
a British Museum MS. The opening of twelve MSS. from the 
Bibliotheque Nationale is likewise given, and shows substantial 
unity between them and Mr. Furnivall's text. In 1868 Mons. 
Paulin Paris published, in the first volume of his " Romans de la 
Table Ronde," a general introduction to the Round Table cycle, 
and a special study upon the Metrical Joseph and the Grand St. 
Graal. A large share of influence is assigned to Celtic traditions 
through the medium of Breton lais. The Early History of the 
Grail is a British legend, and embodies the national and schismatic 
aspirations of the British Church. The date given in the prologue 
to the Grand St. Graal, and repeated by Helinandus, is accepted 
as the genuine date of a redaction of the legend substantially the 
same as that found later in the Grand St. Graal. The word " Grail " 
is connected with the Latin gradate, modern gradual, and designated 
the book in which the tradition was first written down. The 
Grand St. Graal is anterior to Chrestieii's poem, and Robert de 
Borron's poem in the first draft preceded the Grand St. Graal, and 
was written between 1160 and 1170, but he subsequently revised it 
towards 1214, as is shown by his alluding, 1. 3,490, " mon seigneur, 
Gauter en peis " (where the underlined words are equivalent to the 
Latin in pace) to Gautier of Montbeliard in the past tense. From 


1868 to 1870 M. Potvin brought out his edition of the Coiite du Graal, 
and of the prose Perceval le Gallois from Mons MSS. In the 
after- words priority is claimed for the latter romance over all other 
members of the cycle, and three stages are distinguished in the 
development of the legend Welsh national militant Christian 
knightly the prose romance belonging to the second stage, and 
dating substantially from the eleventh century. The lance and 
basin are originally pagan British symbols, and between the lines 
of the Grail legend may be read a long struggle between heretic 
Britain and orthodox Rome. The Perceval form of the Quest is 
older than the Galahad one. The Joseph of Arimathea forms are 
the latest, and among these the Grand St. Graal the earliest. 

Conclusions as paradoxical as some of these appear in Dr. 
Bergmann's " The San Greal, an Enquiry into the Origin and 
Signification of the Romance of the S. G.," Edinburgh, 1870. The 
idea of the Grail is due entirely to Guyot, as also its connection 
with the Arthurian cycle. Chrestien followed Guyot, but alters 
the character of the work, for which he is reproved by Wolfram, 
who may be looked upon as a faithful representative of the earlier 
poet. Chrestien's alterations are intended to render the poem more 
acceptable in knightly circles. On the other hand Walter Map found 
Guyot too secular and heretical, and wrote from a purely eccle- 
siastical standpoint the Latin version of the legend in which the Grail 
is associated with Joseph of Arimathea. This version forms the 
basis of Robert de Borron, author of the Grand St. Graal and of 
the continuators of Chrestien. Although Bergmann denies the 
Celtic origin of the Grail itself, he incidentally accepts the authen- 
ticity of the Mabinogi of Peredur, and admits that the whole 
framework of the story is Celtic. 

In the endeavour to prove the paradox that one of the latest, 
most highly developed, and most mystic of all the versions of the 
legend (viz., Wolfram's) really represents the common source of 
them all, Bergmann is compelled to make the most gratuitous 
assumptions, as a specimen of which may be quoted the statement 
that the roi-pecheur is originally the sinner king, and that it is by 
mistake that the North French trouveres represent him as a fisher. 

Bergmann's views passed comparatively unnoticed. They are, 


indeed, alluded to with approval in Professor Skeat's edition of 
Joseph of Arimathea, a fourteenth century alliterative abridgement 
of the Grand St. Graal (E. E. Text Soc., 1871). In the editor's 
preface the Glastonbury traditions concerning the evangelisation of 
Britain by Joseph are taken as a starting point, two parts being 
distinguished in them, the one legendary, tallying with William of 
Malmesbury's account, and, perhaps, of considerable antiquity, the 
other fabulous, introducing the personages and incidents of the 
romances and undoubtedly derived from them. Some twenty years 
after the publication of the " Historia Britonum " Walter Map pro- 
bably wrote a Latin poem, from which Robert de Borron, the 
Grand St. Graal, and, perhaps, the other works of the cycle were 
derived. " Grail " is a bowl or dish. Cbrestien may have borrowed 
his Conte du Graal from Map ; the " Quest " is probably an after- 
thought of the romance writers. 

Speculations such as these were little calculated to further the 
true criticism of the Grail cycle. Some few years later, in 1875, 
the then existing texts were supplemented by M. Hucher's work, 
so often quoted in these pages. In an introduction and notes dis- 
playing great research and ingenuity, the following propositions 
are laid down : The Grail is Celtic in origin, and may be seen 
figured upon pre-Christian Gaulish coins. Robert de Borron's 
poem may be called the Petit St. Graal, and its author was a lord of 
like-named territory near Fontainebleau, who between 1147 and 
1164 made large gifts to the Abbey of Barbeaux, which gifts are 
confirmed in 1169 by Simon, son of said Robert. About 1169 
Robert came to England, met Walter Map, and was initiated by 
him into the knowledge of the Arthurian romance, and of the 
legend of the Holy Grail. Between 1170 and 1199 he entered the 
service of Walter of Montbeliard and wrote (in prose) the Joseph 
of Arimathea and the Merlin. At a later period he returned to 
England, and wrote, in conjunction with Map, the Grand St. 
Graal. This is shown by MS. 2,455 Bibl. Nat. (of the Grand St. 
Graal) : " Or dist li contes qui est estrais de toutes les ystoires, si 
come Robers de Borons le translatait de latin en romans, a 1'ayde 
de maistre Gautier Map." But Helie de Borron, author of the 
Tristan and of Guiron le Courtois, calls Robert his friend and 

106 HUCHEIi. 

kinsman. Helie has been placed nnder Henry III, who has been 
assumed to be the Henry to whom he dedicates his work ; if so 
can he be the friend of Robert, who wrote some fifty years earlier ? 
Helie should, however, be placed really under Henry II. Robert 
wrote originally in prose ; the poem contains later etymological 
and grammatical forms, though it has occasionally preserved older 
ones; besides in v. 2,817 etc. (supra, p. 83) it refers to the de- 
liverance of Moys by the Promised Knight, and thus implies 
knowledge of the Grand St. Graal; this passage is omitted by 
most of the prose versions, thus obviously older. Then the poem 
is silent as to the Christianising of Britain mentioned by one prose 
version (C.). We may accept Borron ? s statement as to his having 
dealt later with the histories of Moys and Petrus, and as to his 
drawing his information from a Latin original. Merlin is the 
pivot of Borron's conception. In comparing the third part of his 
trilogy (Joseph of Arimathea, Merlin, Perceval) with Chrestien 
it must be born in mind that Chrestien reproduces rather the 
English (Joseph Galahad), than the French (Brons Perceval) 
form of the Quest, and this, although the framework of Chrestien 
and Robert's Perceval is substantially the same. Chrestien's work 
was probably preceded by one in which the Peredur story as found 
in the Mabinogi was already adapted to the Christianised Grail 
legend. There are frequent verbal resemblances between Robert 
and Chrestien (i.e., Gautier, Hucher never distinguishing between 
Chrestien and his continuators) which show a common original 
for both. It is remarkable that Chrestien should never mention 
Brons, and that there should be such a difference in the stories of 
the Ford Perillous and the Ford Amorous. It is also remarkable 
that Robert, in his Perceval, should complain that the trouveres 
had not spoken of the Good Friday incident which is to be found 
in Chrestien. 

M. Hucher failed in many cases to see the full significance of 
the facts he brought to light, owing to his incorrect conception of the 
development of the cycle as a whole, and of the relation of its com- 
ponent parts one to the other. He made, however, an accurate sur- 
vey of the cycle possible. The merit of first essaying snch a survey 
belongs to Zarncke in his admittedly rough sketch, "Zur Geschichte 


der Gralsage," published in the third volume (1876) of Paul and 
Braune's Beitraege. The various forms may be grouped as follows : 
(1) Borron's poem, (2) Grand St. Graal, (3) Quete, (4) Chrestien, 
(5 and 6) Chrestien's continuators, (7) Didot MS. Perceval, (8) 
Prose Perceval li Gallois. Neither the Spanish-Provencal nor the 
Celtic origin of the legend is admissible ; it has its source wholly 
in the apocryphal legends of Joseph of Arimathea, in which two 
stages may be distinguished ; the first represented by the Gesta 
Pilati and the Narratio Josephi, which tell how Christ appeared to 
Joseph in prison and released him therefrom ; the second by the 
Yindicta Salvatoris, which combines the legends of the healing 
of Tiberius with that of Titus or Vespasian. Joseph being thus 
brought into contact with Titus, the space of time between the 
two is accounted for by the forty years captivity, and the first hint 
was given of a miraculous sustaining power of the Grail. Borron's 
poem is still purely legendary in character ; the fish caught by the 
rich fisher is the symbol of Christ ; the incident of the waiting for 
the Promised Knight belongs, however, not to the original tradi- 
tion but to a later style of Christian mysticism. The Grand St. 
Graal and the Quete extend and develop the donnee of the poem, 
whilst in Chrestien tone, atmosphere, and framework are pro- 
foundly modified, yet there is no reason to postulate for Chrestien 
any other sources than Nos. 1-3, the differences being such as he 
was quite capable of deliberately introducing. As for No. 7 (the 
Didot- Perceval) it is later than Chrestien and his continuators, and 
has used both. Wolfram von Eschenbach had only Chrestien for 
his model, Kiot's poem being a feigned source. The legend of 
the conversion of Britain by Joseph is no genuine British tradition ; 
William of Malmesbury's account of Glastonbury is a pamphlet 
written to order of the Norman Kings, and incapable of serving 
as a representative of Celtic tradition. The passages therein 
relating to Joseph are late interpolations, disagreeing with the 
remainder of his work and disproved by the silence of all contem- 
porary writers. 

Zarncke's acute article was a praiseworthy attempt to construct 
a working hypothesis of the growth of the cycle. But it is full of 
grave misconceptions, as was, perhaps, inevitable in a hasty survey 


of such, an immense body of literature. The versions are " placed " 
most incorrectly. The argumentation is frequently marred by 
a priori reasoning, such as that Chrestien, the acknowledged lead- 
ing poet of the day, could not have copied Kiot, and by untenable 
assertions, such as that Bran, in the Mabinogi of Branwen, the 
daughter of Llyr, is perhaps a distant echo of Hebron in Robert 
de Borron's poem. He had, however, the great merit of clearing 
the ground for his pupil, A. Birch- Hirschfeld, and urging him to 
undertake what still remains the most searching and exhaustive 
survey of the whole cycle : " Die Sage vom Gral," etc. As Birch- 
Hirschfeld's analysis is at present the only basis for sound criti- 
cism, I shall give his views fully : The Grand St. Graal, as the 
fullest of the versions dealing with the Early History of the Grail, 
is the best starting-point for investigation. From its pronounced 
religious tone monkish authorship may be inferred. Its treatment 
of the subject is not original as is shown by (1) the repetition ad 
nauseam of the same motive (e.g., that of the lance wound four 
times), (2) the pedigrees, (3) the allusions to adventures not 
dealt with in the book, and in especial to the Promised Knight. 
The testimony of Helinand (see supra, p. 52), which is of first- 
rate importance, does not allow of a later date for the Grand St. 
Graal than 1204. On turning to the Queste it is remarkable that 
though sometimes found in the MSS. in conjunction with the 
Grand St. Graal it is also found with the Lancelot, and, when the 
hero's parentage is considered, it seems more likely that it was 
written to supplement the latter than the former work. This 
supposition is adverse to any claim it may lay to being held the 
earliest treatment of the subject, as it is highly improbable that 
the Grail legend occupied at the outset such an important place in 
the Arthurian romance as is thus accorded to it. Such a claim is 
further negatived by the fact that the Queste has three heroes, the 
second of whom is obviously the original one of an older version. 
In estimating the relationship between the Grand St. Graal and 
the Queste it should be borne in mind that the latter, in so far as 
it deals with the Early History, mentions only Joseph, Josephe, 
Evelach (Mordrain) and Seraphe (Nascien), from whom descends 
Galahad ; that it brings Joseph to England, and that it docs not 


give any explanation of the nature of the Grail itself. It omits 
Brons, Alain, the explanation of the name " rich fisherman," the 
name of Moys, although his story is found in substantially the same 
shape as in the Grand St. Graal, and is silent as to the origin of the 
bleeding lance. If it were younger than and derived from the Grand 
St. Graal alone, these points, all more important for the Early 
History than the Mordrain episodes would surely have been dwelt 
upon. But then if the Grand St. Graal is the younger work, whence 
does it derive Brons, Alain, and Petrus, all of whom are introduced 
in such a casual way ? There was obviously a previous Early History 
which knew nothing of Josephe or of Mordrain and his group, 
the invention of the authpr of the Queste, whence they passed 
into the Grand St. Graal, and were fused in with the older form of 
the legend. There is, moreover, a positive reference on the part of 
the Grand St. Graal to the Queste (vol. ii., p. 225). The author 
of the Queste introduced his new personages for the following 
reasons : He had already substituted Galahad for the original hero, 
and to enhance his importance gives him a fictitious descent from 
a companion of Joseph. From his model he learnt of Joseph's 
wanderings in the East, hence the Eastern origin of the Mordrain 
group. In the older form the Grail had passed into the keeping 
of Joseph's nephew, in the Queste the Promised Knight descends 
from the nephew of Mordrain ; Brons, as the ancestor of the original 
Quest hero necessarily disappears in the Queste, and his place is in 
large measure taken by Josephe. The priority of the Queste over 
the Grand St. Graal, and the use of the former by the latter may 
thus be looked upon as certain. But if Mordrain is the invention 
of the Queste, what is the meaning of his illness, of his waiting for 
the Promised Knight, of the bleeding lance, and of the lame king 
whom it heals ? These seem to have no real connection with the 
Grail, and are apparently derived from an older work, namely, 
Chrestien's Conte du Graal. 

Chrestien's work, which ended at v. 10,601, may be dated as 
having been begun not later than 1189 (vide supra, p. 4). Its 
unfinished state accounts for its having so little positive information 
about the Grail, as Chrestien evidently meant to reserve this infor- 
mation for the end of the story. But this very freedom with which 


the subject is handled is a proof that he had before him a work 
whence he could extract and adapt as he saw fit ; moreover we 
have (Prologue, v. 475, etc.) his own words to that effect. With 
Chrestien's account of the Grail a bowl bejewelled, of wondrous 
properties, borne by a maiden, preceded by a bleeding lance, accom- 
panied by a silver plate, guarded by a king wounded through both 
ankles (whose only solace is fishing, whence his surname), minis- 
tering to the king's father, sought for by Perceval, nephew to the 
fisher king, its fate bound up with a question which the seeker 
must put concerning it may be compared that of the Queste, in 
which nothing is known of a question by which the Grail king- 
ship may be obtained (although it relates the same incident of 
Lancelot), which knows rot of one wounded king, centre of the 
action, but of two, both of secondary importance (though possibly 
Chrestien's Fisher King's father may have given the hint for Mor- 
drain), in which the lance is of minor importance instead of being 
on the same level as the Grail. Is it not evident that the Queste 
took over these features from Chrestien, compelled thereto by the 
celebrity of the latter's presentment ? The Queste thus presupposes 
the following works : a Lancelot, an Early History, a Quest other 
than that of Chrestien's, and finally Chrestien as the lame king 
and lance features show. It thus falls between 1189 (Chrestien 
begun) and 1204 (Grand St. Graal ended). 

With respect to the three continuators of Chrestien it would 
seem that Gautier de Doulens' account of the Grail, as found in 
the Montpellier MS., knowing as it does only of Joseph, and 
making the Fisher King and Perceval descendants of his, belongs 
to an older stage of development than that of Manessier and Gerbert, 
both of whom are familiar with the Mordrain group, and follows 
that of the original version upon which both the Queste and the 
Grand St. Graal are based. There is nothing to show that Gautier 
knew of the Queste, whilst from Gautier the Queste may have 
possibly have taken Perceval's sister and the broken sword. Gautier 
would thus seem to have written immediately after Cbrestien, and 
before the Queste, i.e., about 1195. As for the date of the other 
two continuators, the fact of their having used the Queste is only 
c one proof of the lateness of their composition (as to the date of 


which see supra, p. 4). It must be noted that whilst in their 
account of the Grail Chrestien's continuators are in substantial 
accord with the Queste versions, and yet do not contradict Chres- 
tien himself, they add considerably to his account of the lance. 
This is readily explained by the fact that as Chrestien gave no 
information respecting the origin of either of the relics, they, the 
continuators, had to seek such information elsewhere ; they found 
all they could wish respecting the Grail, but nothing as to the 
lance, the latter having been first introduced by Chrestien, and the 
Queste versions knowing nothing respecting it beyond what he 
told. Thus, thrown upon their own resources, they hit upon the 
device of identifying the lance with the spear with which Jesus 
was pierced as He hung on the Cross. This idea, a most natural 
one, may possibly have been in Chrestien's incent, and may have 
been suggested to him by the story of the discovery of the Holy 
Lance in Antioch half a century before. It must, however, be 
admitted that the connection of the lance with the Grail legend in 
its earliest form is very doubtful, and that Celtic legends may 
possibly have furnished it to Chrestien, and indicated the use to 
which he intended putting it. The analysis, so far, of the romances 
has resulted in the presupposition of an earlier form ; this earlier 
form, the source or basis of all the later versions of the legend, 
exists in the so-called Petit St. Graal of Robert de Borron. Of 
this work, found in two forms, a prose and a poetic one, the 
poetic form, pace Hucher, is obviously the older, Hucher's proofs 
of lateness going merely to show that the sole existing MS. is a 
recent one, and has admitted new speech -forms ;* moreover the 
prose versions derive evidently from one original. The greater 
simplicity of the poem as compared with the Grand St. Graal 
proves its anteriority in that case ; Paulin Paris' hypothesis that 
the poem in its present state is a second draft, composed after the 
author had made acquaintance with the Grand St. Graal, is unten- 
able, the poem's reference (v. 929 etc.) to the "grant livre " and 
to the "grant estoire dou Graal," written by "nul home qui fust 

* Hucher's argument from v. 2817 (supra p. 106) that the poem knew of 
the Grand St. Graal is, however, not met. 


mortal" (v. 3,495-6) not being to the Grand St. Graal, but having, 
on the contrary, probably suggested to the writer of the latter his 
fiction of Christ's being the real author of his work. The Grand 
St. Graal used the poem conjointly with the Queste, piecing out 
the one version by help of the other, and thereby entirely missing 
the sequence of ideas in the poem, which is as follows : Sin, the 
cause of want among the people ; the separation of the pure from 
the impure by means of the fish (symbol of Christ) caught by 
Brons, which fish does not feed the people, but, in conjunction with 
the Grail, severs the true from the false disciples ; punishment of 
the self-willed false disciple ; reward of Brons by charge of the 
Grail. In the Grand St. Graal, on the contrary, the fish is no 
symbol, but actual food, a variation which must be laid to the 
account of the Qneste. In a similar way the two Alains in the Grand 
St. Graal may be accounted for, the one as derived from the poem, 
the second from tlie Queste. As far as conception is concerned, 
the later work is no advance upon the earlier one. To return to 
Borron's work, which consists of three sections ; there is no reason 
to doubt his authorship of the second, Merlin, or of the third, 
Perceval, although one MS. only of the former mentions the fact, 
and it is, moreover, frequently found in connection with other 
romances, in especial with the Lancelot ; as for Perceval, the silence 
of the unique MS. as to Borron is no argument, as it is equally 
silent in the Joseph of Arimathea section. All outward circum- 
stances go to show that Borron divided his work into three parts, 
Joseph, Merlin, Perceval. But, if so, the last part must correspond 
in a fair measure to the first one ; recollect, however, that we are 
dealing with a poet of but little invention or power of giving unity 
to discordant themes, and must not expect to find a clearly traced 
plan carried out in every detail. Thus the author's promise in 
Joseph to speak later of Moses and Petrus seems not to be ful- 
filled, but this is due to Borron's timidity in the invention of new 
details. What is said of Moses does not disagree with the Joseph, 
whereas a lator writer would probably follow the Grand St. Graal 
account ; as for Petrus he is to be recognised in the hermit 
Perceval's uncle. There may be some inconsistency here, but 
Borron can be inconsistent, as is shown by his treatment of Alain, 


who at first vows to remain virgin, and afterwards marries. 
But a graver argument remains to be met ; the lance occurs in 
Perceval now ex liypothesi the first introduction of the lance is 
due to Chrestien. The lance, however, only occurs in two pas- 
sages, both obviously interpolated. The identity of authorship is 
evident when the style and phraseology of the two works are 
compared ; in both the Grail is always li graaux or else li veissel, 
not as with the later versions, li saint graaux; both speak of la 
grace dou graal ; in both the Grail is bailli to its keeper, who has 
it en guarde ; the empty seat is li liu w', not the siege perilleux. 
The central conception, too, is the same the Trinity of Grail- 
keepers symbolising the Divine Trinity. The secret words given 
by Christ with the Grail to Joseph in prison, by him handed on to 
Brons, are confided at the end of the Perceval by Brons to the hero 
and there is no trace of the Galahad form of the Quest, as 
would inevitably have been the case had the Perceval been posterior 
in date to the Queste. As the Perceval is connected with the 
Joseph, so it is equally with the Merlin ; it is remarkable that 
neither Merlin nor Blaise play a prominent part in the Queste 
versions, but in Borron's poem Merlin is the necessary binding 
link between the Apostolic and Arthurian ages. Again the whole 
character of the Perceval speaks for its being one of the earliest 
works of the cycle ; either it must have used Chrestien and 
Gautier or they it ; if the former, is it credible that just those adven- 
tures which were necessary to supply the ending to the Joseph 
could have been picked out ? But it is easy to follow the way in 
which Chrestien used the Perceval ; having the three-part poem 
before him he took the third only for his canvas, left out all that 
in it related to the first two parts, all, moreover, that related to 
the origin and early history of the Grail ; the story of the childhood 
is half indicated in the Perceval, and Chrestien may have had 
Breton lays with which to help himself out ; all relating to the 
empty seat is left out as reaching back into the Early History ; the 
visit to Gurnemanz is introduced to supply a motive for the hero's 
conduct at the Grail Castle ; the wound of the Fisher King is 
again only an attempt of Chrestien's to supply a more telling 
motive ; as for the sword Chrestien invented it ; as he also did the 



Grail-messenger, whose portrait he copied from that of Rosette la 
Blonde. The order of the last episodes is altered by Chrestien 
sensibly for the better, as, with him, Perceval's doubt comes first, 
then the Good Friday reproof, then the confession to and absolu- 
tion by the hermit ; whereas in the Perceval the hero after doubt, 
reproof, and absolution rides off again a-tour'neying, and requires 
a second reproof at Merlin's hands. It is easy to see here which 
is the original, which the copy, Chrestien thus took with clear 
insight just what he wanted in the Perceval to fit out his two heroes 
with adventures.* As for Borron's guiding conception, his resolve 
to have nothing to do with the Early History made him neglect it 
entirely; he only cared to produce a knightly poem, and we find, 
in consequence, that he has materialised all the spiritual elements 
of his model. Gautier de Doulens' method of proceeding was 
much simpler : he took over all those adventures that Chrestien 
purposely left out, and they may be found brought together (verses 
22,390-27,390) with but few episodes (Perceval's visit to Blanche- 
fleur, etc.) entirely foreign to the model amongst them.f The 
Perceval cannot be later than Gautier, as otherwise it could not 
stand in such close relationship to the Joseph and Merlin ; it must, 
therefore, be the source of the Conte du Graal, and a necessary 
part of Borron's poem, which in its entirety is the first attempt 
to bring the Joseph of Arimathea legend into connection with the 
Arthur sage. The question as to the origin of the Grail would 
thus seem answered, the Christian legendary character of Borron's 
conception being evident ; but there still remains the possibility 
that that conception is but the Christianised form of an older 
folk-myth. Such a one has been sought for in Celtic tradition. 
The part played by Merlin in the trilogy might seem to lend colour 
to such an hypothesis, but his connection with the legend is a purely 
artificial one. Nor is the theory of a Celtic origin strengthened 
by reference to the Mabinogi of Peredur. This knows nought of 
Merlin, and is nearer to Chrestien than to the Didot-Perceval, and 
may, indeed, be looked upon as simply a clumsy retelling of the 

* Vide p. 200, for Birch-Hirschf eld's summary comparison of the two works, 
and cf. infra p. 127. 

4- Cf. infra p. 128, for a criticism of this statement. 


Conte du Graal with numerous additions. A knowledge of the 
Didot- Perceval on Chrestien's part must be presupposed, as where 
could he have got the Fisher King and Grail Castle save from a 
poem which dealt with the Early History of the Grail, a thing 
the Mabinogi does not do. But, it may be said, Chrestien used 
the Mabinogi conjointly with Borron's poem. That the Welsh tale 
is, on the contrary, only a copy is apparent from the following 
considerations: It mixes up Gurnemanz and the Fisher King; it 
puts in the mouth of Peredur's mother an exclamation about the 
knights, "Angels they are my son," obviously 'misread from Per- 
ceval's exclamation to the same effect in Chrestien's poem ; Perceval's 
love-trance over the three blood drops in the snow is explained in 
Chrestien by the hero's passion for Blanchefleur, but is quite 
inexplicable in the Mabinogi; again, in the Welsh tale, the lance 
and basin episode is quite a secondary one, a fact easily explained if 
it is looked upon as a vague reminiscence of Chrestien's unfinished 
work ; moreover the Mabinogi lays great stress upon the lance, 
which has already been shown to belong to a secondary stage in 
the development of the legend. Again the word Graal occurs 
frequently in old Welsh literature, and invariably in its French 
form, never translated by any equivalent Welsh term. As for the 
name Peredur, it is understandable that the Welsh storyteller 
should choose the name of a national hero, instead of the foreign 
name Perceval ; the etymology Basin- Seeker is untenable. There 
is no real analogy between the Grail and the magic cauldron of 
Celtic fable, which is essentially one of renovation, whereas the 
Grail in the second stage only acquires miraculous feeding, and in 
the third stage healing powers. It is of course not impossible 
that such adventures in the Mabinogi, as cannot be referred 
directly to Chrestien, may belong to a genuine Peredur sage. 

The question then arises was Robert de Borron a simple 
copyist, or is the legend in its present form due to him, i.e., did Tie 
first join the Joseph of Arimathea and Grail legends, or had he a 
predecessor ? Now the older Joseph legends know nothing of his 
wandering in company of a miraculous vessel, Zarncke having 
shown the lateness of the one commonly ascribed to William of 
Malmesbury. Nor is it likely Borron had before him a local French 

i 2 


legend as Paulin Paris (Romania, vol. i.) had supposed ; would he 
in that case have brought the Grail to England, and left Joseph's 
fate in uncertainty ? The bringing the Grail to England is simply 
the logical consequence of his conception of the three Grail-keepers 
(the third of British blood), symbolising the Trinity, and of the 
relation of the Arthurian group to this central conception ; where 
the third Grail-keeper and the third of the three wondrous tables 
were, there the Grail must also be. What then led Borron 
to connect the sacramental vessel with the Joseph legend ? In 
answering this question the later miraculous properties of the 
Grail must be forgotten, and it must remembered that with Borron 
it is only a vessel of "grace;" this is shown in the history of 
(Moys) the false disciple, which obviously follows in its details the 
account of the Last Supper, and of the detection of Judas by means 
of the dish into which Jesus dips a sop, bidding the betrayer take 
and eat. Borron's first table being an exact copy of the Last Supper 
one, his holy vessel has the property of that used by Christ. In 
so far Borron was led to his conception by the story as told in the 
canonical books ; what help did he get from the Apocrypha ? 
His mention of the Veronica legend and certain details in his pre- 
sentment of Vespasian's vengeance on the Jews (e.g., his selling 
thirty for a penny) show him to have known the Vindicta Salva- 
toris, in which Joseph of Arimathea appears telling of his former 
captivity from which Christ Himself had delivered him. Thus 
Borron knew of Joseph's living when Vespasian came to Jerusalem. 
From the Gesta Pilati he had full information respecting the im- 
prisonment of Joseph; he combined the accounts of these two 
apocryphal works, substituting a simple visit of Christ to Joseph 
for the deliverance as told in the Gesta Pilati, and making Ves- 
pasian the deliverer, whereto he may have been urged by Suetonius' 
account of the freeing of Joseplius by Vespasian (Vesp. ch. v.). 
But why should Joseph become the Grail-keeper ? Because the 
fortunes of the vessel used by the Saviour symbolise those of the 
Saviour's body; as that was present at the Last Supper, was 
brought to Pilate, handed over to Joseph, was buried, and after 
three days arose, so with the Grail. Compare, too, Christ's words 
to Joseph (892, etc.) in which the symbolical connection of the laying 


in the grave and the mass is fully worked out. Thus Joseph who 
laid Christ's body in the grave is the natural guardian of the 
symbol which commemorates that event, thus, too, the Grail is the 
natural centre point of all the symbolism of mass and sacrament, 
and thus the Grail found its place in the Joseph legend, ultimately 
becoming its most important feature. Need Perceval's question 
detain us ? May it not be explained by the fact that as Joseph had 
to apply twice for Christ's body, so his representative, the Grail- 
seeker, had to apply twice for the symbol of Christ's body, the 
Grail ? But it is, perhaps, best to consider the question and the 
Fisher King's weakness as inventions of Borron's, possibly de- 
rived from Breton sources, the ease with which the hero fulfils a 
task explained to him beforehand favouring such a view. Borron, it 
must be noticed, had no great inventive power; in the Joseph he is 
all right so long as he has the legend to follow ; in the Merlin and 
the Perceval he clings with equal helplessness to the Breton sagas, 
confining himself to weaving clumsily the adventures of the Grail 
into the regular Arthur legend. 

The question as to the authorship of the Grand St. Graal and 
the Queste, the latter so confidently attributed to W. Map, may 
now profitably be investigated. Map, who we know nourished 
1143-1210 (see supra, p. 5), took part in all the political and 
social movements of his time. If we believe the testimony of the 
MSS. which ascribe to him the authorship of the following romances : 
(1) the Lancelot, in three parts; (2) the Queste; (3) the Mort 
Artur; (4) the Grand St. Graal, he would seem to have shown a 
literary activity quite incompatible with his busy life, when it is 
remembered how slow literary composition was in those days. 
Nor can it be reconciled with the words of Giraldus Cambrensis,* 
although Paulin Paris (Rom. i. 472) has attempted such a re- 
conciliation by the theory that the words dicere and verba dare 
referred to composition in the vernacular, and that Map was 

* Opera V. 410: Unde et vir ille eloquio clarus W. Mapus, Oxoniensis 
archidiaconus (cujus animae propitietur Deus) solita verborum facetia et 
urbanitate praecipua dicere pluris et nos in hunc modurn convenire solebat : 
" Multa, Magister Geralde, scripsistis et multum adhuc scribitis, et nos imdta 
diximus. Yos scripta dedistis et nos verba." 


opposing not his oratorical to Gerald's literary activity, but his 
French to Gerald's Latin works. Against this initial improbability 
and Gerald's positive testimony must be set, it is true, the witness 
of writers of the time and of the MSS. The most important 
is that of Helie de Borron in his prologue to Guiron le Courtois.* 
After telling how Luces de Gast was the first to translate from the 
Latin book into French, and he did part of the story of Tristan, he 
goes on : " Apries s'en entremist maistre Gautiers Map qui fu 
clers au roi Henry et devisa cil 1'estoire de monseigneur Lancelot 
du Lac, que d'autre chose ne parla il mie gramment en son livre. 
Messiers Robers de Borron s'en entremist apres. Je Helis de 
Borron, par la priere monseigneur de Borron, et pour ce que com- 
paignon d'armes fusmes longemeut, en commencai mon livre du 
Bret." Again in the epilogue to the Bret,f " Je croi bien touchier sor 
les livres que maistres Gautiers Maup fist, qui fit lou propre livre 
de monsoingnour Lancelot dou Lac ; et des autres granz livres que 
messires Robert de Berron fit, voudrai-je prendre aucune flor de la 
matiere ... en tel meniere que li livres de monsoingnour Luces 
de Gant et de maistre Gautier Maapp et ciz de monsoingnour Robert 
de Berron qui est mes amis et mes paranz charnex s'acourderont 
au miens livres et je qui sui appelex Helyes de Berron qui fui 
engendrez dou sane des gentix paladins des Barres qui de tous tens 
ont ete commendeour et soingnor d'Outres en Romenie qui ores 
est appelee France." Now Helie cannot possibly belong to the 
reign of Henry II ( + 1189) as asserted by Hucher (p. 59), as he 
speaks of Map in the past tense {fu clers), and Map outlived 
Henry, moreover the mention of Romenie proves the passage to 
have been written after the foundation of the Latin Empire in 
1304. Helie's testimony is thus not that of an immediate con- 
temporary, and it only shows that shortly after Map's death the 
Lancelot was ascribed to him. It is, moreover, in so far tainted, 
that he speaks with equal assurance respecting the great Latin 
book which of course never existed ; nor can we believe him when 
he says that he was the comrade of Robert de Borron, as this latter 

* Printed in full, Hucher, I. 156, etc. 
t Printed by Hucher, I. p. 35, etc. 


wrote before Chrestien, and must have been at least thirty years 
older than Helie, who in the Guiron (written about 1220) calls 
himself a young man. How is it with the testimony of the MSS. P 
Those of the Lancelot have unfortunately lost their colophon, 
owing to the Queste being almost invariably added; those of the 
Queste show as a rule a colophon such as the one quoted by Paulin 
Paris from the Bibl. Nat., MS. 6,963 (MSS. Fran9 II., p. 361) : 
" Maistre Gautiers Map les estrait pour son livre faire dou Saint- 
Graal, pour 1'amor del roy Henri son seignor, qui fist 1'estore 
translator dou latin en francois." A similar statement occurs in 
a MS. of the Mort Artur (Bib. Wat. 6,782.). Both are equally 
credible. Now as the King can only be Henry II ( + 1189) and as 
the Queste preceded the Mort Artur it must be put about 1185, 
and Chrestien's Conte du Graal about 1180, an improbably early 
date when it is recollected that the Conte du Graal is Chrestien's 
last work. The form, too, of these colophons, expressed as they are 
in the third person, so different from the garrulous first person 
complacency with which Luces de Gast and Helie de Borron 
announce their authorship, excites the suspicion that we have here 
not the author's own statement, but that of a copyist following a 
traditional ascription. Whether or no Map wrote the Lancelot, 
it may safely be assumed that he did not write the Queste, or a 
fortiori the Grand St. Graal. The tradition as to his authorship 
of these romances may have originated in Geoffrey's mention of 
the Gualterus archidiaconus Oxenfordensis, to whom he owed his 
MS. of the Historia Regum Britanniae. A similar instance of 
traditional ascription on the part of the copyist may be noted in 
the MSS. of the Grand St. Graal, the author of which is declared 
to be Robert de Borron. The ordinary formulae (quoted supra, 
p. 5) should be compared with Borron's own words in the 
Joseph (supra, p. 5) and the difference in form noted. What 
proves these passages to be interpolations is that the author of the 
Grand St. Graal especially declares in his prologue that his name 
must remain a secret. The colophons in question are simply to be 
looked upon as taken over from the genuine ascription of Borron's 
poem, and there is no positive evidence as to the authorship of 
either the Queste or the Grand St. Graal ; both works are pro- 


bably French in origin, as is shown by the mention of Meaux in 
the Grand St. Graal. As for the date of Borron's poem, a terminus 
adquemis fixed by that of the Conte du Graal (1180) ; and as the poem 
is dedicated to Gautier of Montbeliard, who can hardly have been 
born before 1150, and who must have attained a certain age before 
he could become Robert's patron, it must fall between the years 
1170 and 1190. 

The results of the investigation may be summed up as follows : 
the origin of the Grail romances must be sought for in a Christian 
legend based partly upon the canonical, partly upon the uncanonical, 
writings. This Christian legend was woven into the Breton sagas 
by the author of the oldest Grail romance ; tlie theories of Provencal 
Spanish, or Celtic origin are equally untenable, nor is there any 
need to countenance the fable of a Latin original. Chronologically, 
the versions arrange themselves thus : 

(1) Between 1170 and 1190 (probably about 1183) .Robert de 

Borron wrote his trilogy : Joseph of Arimathea 
Merlin Perceval. Sources : Christian legend (Acta, 
Pilati, Descensus Christi, Vindicta Salvatoris) and 
Breton sagas (Brut ?). Here the Grail is simply a 
vessel of grace. 

(2) About 1189 Chrestien began his Conte du Graal, the 

main source of which was the third part of Borron's 
poem. Marvellous food properties attributed to the 
Grail ; introduction of the bleeding lance, silver dish, 
and magic sword. 

(3) Between 1190 and 1200 Gautier de Doulens continued 

Chrestieri's poem. Main sources, third part of (1) and 
first part of same for Early History introduction of 
broken sword. 

(4) Between 1190 and 1200 (but after Gautier?) the Queste 

du St. Graal written as continuation to the Lancelot. 
Sources (1) and (2) (for lance) and perhaps (3). New 
personages, Mordrain, Nascien, etc., introduced into 
Early History. 

(5) Before 1204 Grand St. Graal written, mainly resting upon 

(4) but with use also of first part of (1). 


(6) Between 1214 and 1220. JVIanessier's continuation of the 

Conte du Graal. For the Early History (5) made use of. 

(7) Before 1225 Gerbertof Montreuil's additions to Manessier. 

Both (4) and (5) used. 

(8) About 1225 Perceval li Gallois ; compiled from all the 

previous versions.* 

That part of Birch-Hirschfeld's theory which excited the most 
attention in Germany bore upon the relationship of Wolfram to 
Chrestien (see infra, Appendix A) . In other respects his theory won 
very general acceptance. The commendatory notices were, however, 
of a slight character, and no new facts were adduced in support of 
his thesis. One opponent, however, he found who did more than 
rest his opposition upon the view of Wolfram's relationship to 
Chrestien. This was E. Martin, who (" Zeitschriftfiir d. Alterthums- 
kunde," 1878, pp. 84 etc.) traversed most of Birch -Hirschf eld's 
conclusions. Whilst accepting the priority of Queste over Grand 
St. Graal he did not see the necessity of fixing 1204 as a terminus 
ad quern for the latter work as we now have it, as Helinandus' 
statement might have referred to an older version ; if the Grand 
St. Graal could not be dated neither could the Queste. As for 
the Didot-Perceval there was nothing to prove that it was either 
Borron's work or the source of Chrestien and Gautier. Birch- 
Hirschfeld's arguments to show the interpolation of the lance 
passages were unsound ; it was highly improbable either that 
Chrestien should have used the Perceval as alleged, or that Borron, 
the purely religious writer of the Joseph, should have changed his 
style so entirely in the Perceval. Moreover, Birch-Hirschfeld 
made Borron dedicate a work to Gautier of Montbeliard before 
1183 when the latter must have been quite a young man, nor was 
there any reason to discredit Helie de Borron's testimony that he 
and Robert had been companions in arms, a fact incredible had 

* The remainder of Birch-Hirschfeld's work is devoted to proving that 
Chrestien was the only source of Wolfram von Esclienbach, the latter's Kiot being 
imagined by him to justify his departure from Chrestien's version ; departures 
occasioned by his dissatisfaction with the French poet's treatment of the 
subject on its moral and spiritual side. This element in the Grail problem will 
be found briefly dealt with, Appendix A. 


the one written forty years before the other. The work of Chres- 
tien and his continuators must be looked upon as the oldest we 
had of the Grail cycle. It was likely that older versions had been 
lost. A Latin version might well have existed, forms such as 
Joseph de Barimaschie (i.e., ab Arimathea) pointed to it. Martin 
followed up this attack in his " Zur Gralsage, Untersuchungen," 
Strasburg, 1880. A first section is devoted to showing that Wol- 
fram must have had other sources than Chrestien, and that in 
consequence such portions of his presentment as differ from Chres- 
tien's must be taken into account in reconstructing the original 
form of the romance. The second and third sections deal with 
Heinrich von dem Tiirlin's " Die Crone," and with the earliest form 
of the tradition. Gawain's second visit to the Grail Castle, as told 
of by Heinrich (swpra, p. 26) has features in common with the 
widely-spread traditions of aged men slumbering in caves or 
ruined castles, unable to die until the right word is uttered which 
breaks their spell. This conception differs from the one found in 
all the other versions inasmuch as in them the wonder-working 
question releases, not from unnaturally prolonged life, but from 
sore disease. Can a parallel be found in Celtic tradition to this 
sufferer awaiting deliverance ? Does not Arthur, wounded well 
nigh to death by his nephew Modred, pass a charmed life in Avalon, 
whither Morgan la Fay carried him for his healing, and shall he 
not return thence to free his folk ? The original conception is 
mythic the summer god banished by the winter powers, but des- 
tined to come back again. The sage of Arthur's waiting, often in 
some subterranean castle, is widely spread, two of the earliest 
notices (those of Gervasius of Tilbury, in the" Otialmperialia," p. 
12 of Liebrecht's edition, and of Caesarius of Heisterbach) connect 
it with Etna the tradition had followed the Norman Conquerors 
of Sicily thither and from Sicily it would seem to have penetrated 
to Germany, being first found in German tradition as told of 
Frederick IT. Again Gerald (A.D. 1188) in the " Itinerarium Cam- 
briae " (Frankfort, 1603, p. 827, L. 48) tells of a mountain chain 
in the South- East of Wales : " quorum principalis Cadair Arthur 
dicitur i. Cathedra Arthuri, propter gemina promontorii cacumina 
in cathedrae modum se praeferentia. Et quoniam in alto cathedra 


et in ardua sita est, summo et maxirao Britonum Regi Arthuro 
vulgari nuncupatione est assignata." The Eildon Hills may be 
noted in the same connection, " in which all the Arthurian chivalry 
await, in an enchanted sleep, the bugle blast of the adventurer 
who will call them at length to a new life" (Stuart Glennie, 
" Arthurian Localities," p. 60). If the Grail King is Arthur, the 
bleeding lance is evidently the weapon wherewith he was so sorely 
wounded. And the Grail ? this is originally a symbol of plenty, 
of a joyous and bountiful life, hence of Avalon, that land of ever- 
lasting summer beyond the waves, wherein, as the Vita Merlini 
has it, they that visit Arthur find " planitiem omnibus deliciis 
plenam." Of those versions of the romance in which the Christian 
conception of the Grail is predominant, Robert de Borron's poem 
(composed about 1200) is the earliest, and in it, maugre the 
Christianising of the story, the Celtic basis is apparent : the Grail 
host go a questing Avalonwards ; the first keepers are Brons and 
Alain, purely Celtic names, the former of which may be com- 
pared with Bran ; the empty seat calls to mind the Eren stein in 
Ulrich von Zatzikhoven's Lanzelot, whereof (verse 5, 178) ist gesaget 
daz er den man niht vertruoc an dem -was valsch oder haz. Admit- 
ting the purely Christian origin of the Grail leads to this difficulty : 
the vessel in which Christ's blood was received was a bowl, not 
an open or flat dish like that used in commemoration of the Last 
Supper. Evidently the identification of the Grail with the Last 
Supper cup is the latest of p., series of transformations. Nor can 
the Christian origin of the legend be held proved by the surname 
of Fisher given to the Grail-keeper. True, neither Chrestien nor 
Wolfram explains this surname, whilst in Borron's poem there is at 
least a fish caught. But if the fish had really the symbolic mean- 
ing ascribed to it would not a far greater stress be laid upon it ? 
In any case this one point is insufficient to prove the priority of 
Borron, and it is simpler to believe that the surname of Fisher had 
in the original Celtic tradition a significance now lost. Birch- 
Hirschfeld's theory supposes, too, a development contrary to that 
observed elsewhere in medieval tradition. The invariable course 
is from the racial-heathen to the Christian legendary stage. I& 
it likely that in the twelfth century, a period of such highly 


developed mystic fancy, an originally Christian legend should lose 
its mystic character and become a subject for minstrels to exercise 
their fancy upon ? In the earlier form of the romance there is an 
obvious contrast between the task laid upon the Grail quester and 
that laid upon Gawain at Castle Marvellous. The first has suffered 
change by its association with Christian legend ; but the second, 
even in those versions influenced by the legend, has retained its 
primitive Celtic character. The trials which Gawain has to undergo 
may be compared with those imposed on him who seeks to penetrate 
into the underworld, as pictured in the Purgatoriuin S. Patricii, in 
the Visio Tnugdali, etc. This agrees well with the presentment 
of Castle Marvellous, an underworld realm where dwell four 
queens long since vanished from Arthur's court, and which, accord- 
ing to Chrestien (verse 9,388), Gawain, having once found, may no 
longer leave. One of these queens is Arthur's mother, whom a 
magician had carried off, a variant it would seem of the tradition 
which makes Arthur's father, Uther, win Igerne from her husband 
by Merlin's magic aid. Many other reminiscences of Celtic tradi- 
tion may be found in the romances Orgeleuse, whom Gawain 
finds sitting under a tree by a spring, is just such a water fairy 
as may be met with throughout the whole range of Celtic folk-lore, 
and differs profoundly from the Germanic conception of such 

W. Hertz, in his " Sage vom Parzival und dem Gral " (Breslau, 
1882) following, in the main, Birch-Hirschfeld, lays stress upon 
the two elements, " legend " and " sage " out of which the romance 
cycle has sprung. He does not overlook many of the weak points 
in Birch-Hirschf eld's theory, e.g., whilst fully accepting the fish 
caught by Bron as the symbol of Christ, he notices that the in- 
cident as found in Robert de Borron, whom he accepts as the first 
in date of the cycle writers, is not of such importance as to justify 
the stress laid upon the nickname "rich fisher," by all the ex 
hypothesi later writers. The word " rich " must, he thinks, have 
originally referred to the abundant power of conversion of heathen 
vouchsafed to the Grail-keeper, but even Robert failed to grasp 
the full force of the allusion. Against Birch-Hirschfeld he main- 
tains that the connection of Joseph with the conversion of Britain 


in all the versions shows that the legend must have assumed definite 
shape first on British soil, and he looks upon the separatist and 
anti-papal tendencies of the British Church as supplying the 
original impulse to such a legend. The Grail belongs originally 
wholly to the "Legend;" only in the later versions and in Wol- 
fram, owing to the Jatter's ignorance of its real nature, does it 
assume a magic and popular character. The lance, on the other 
hand, is partly derived from the Celtic sage. The boyhood of 
Perceval is a genuine folk-story, a great-fool tale, and had originally 
nothing to do with the Grail, as may plainly be seen by reference 
to the Thornton Sir Perceval, the most primitive form of the 
story remaining, the Mabinogi, and the modern Breton tale of 
Peronnik, deriving directly or indirectly from Chrestien. As for 
the question, although it presented much that seemed to refer it 
to folk-tradition, as for instance in Heinrich von dem Tiirlin's 
version, where Gawain's putting the question releases the lord of 
the castle and his retainers from the enchantment of life-in- death, 
yet the form of the question, " Je vos prie que vous me die/ que 
1'en sert de cest vessel," shows its original connection with Ihe 
Grail cultus, and necessitates its reference to the " Legend." 
Existing versions fail, however, to give any satisfactory account of 
the question. It is a matter of conjecture whether in the earliest 
form of the legend (which Hertz assumes to have been lost) it was 
found in the same shape as in the Didot-Perceval. 

Birch-Hirschfeld's theory has already been implicitly criticised 
in Chapter III. The considerations adduced therein, as well as 
Martin's criticisms and Hertz's admissions, preclude the necessity 
of examining it in further detail. Formally speaking, the theorv 
rests upon the assumption that we have Borron's work substantially 
as he wrote it, an assumption which, as shown by the difference 
in motif between the Metrical Joseph and the Didot-Perceval, is 
inaccurate. Again, the theory does not account for the silence of 
all the other versions respecting Brons and that special conception 
of the Grail found in Borron's poem. Nor does it offer any 
satisfactory explanation of the mysterious question which Birch - 
Hirschfeid can only conjecture to have been a meaningless 
invention, eine harmlose Erfindung, of Borron's. In fact, only 


such portions of the cycle are exhaustively examined as admit 
of reference to the alleged originating idea, and a show of 
rigorous deduction is thus made, the emptiness of which becomes 
apparent when the entire legend, and not one portion only, is taken 
into account. Despite the learning and acuteness with which it is 
ui'ged, Birch-Hirschfeld's theory must be rejected, if it were only 
because, as Martin points out, it postulates a development of the 
legend which is the very opposite of the normal one. We can- 
not admit that this vast body of romance sprang from a simple 
but lofty spiritual conception, the full significance of which, 
unperceived even by its author, was totally ignored, not only, 
were that possible, by Chrestien and his continuators, but by 
the theologising mystics who wrote the Grand St. Graal and the 
Queste aye, and even by the latest and in some respects the most 
theologically minded of all the writers of the cycle, the author of 
the Prose Perceval le Gallois and Gerbert. We must say, with 
Otto Kiipp (Zacher's Zeitschrift, XVII, 1, p. 68), "die jetzt 
versuchte christliche Motivierung ist ganz ungliicklich geraten 
und kann in keiner Weise befriedigen." 

The field is thus clear for an examination of the Quest with a 
view to determining whether the Grail really belongs to it or not. 
The first step is to see what relationship exists between the oldest 
form of the Quest and what have been called the non- Grail mem- 
bers of the cycle i.e., the Mabinogi of Peredur ab Evrawc and the 
Thornton MS. Sir Perceval. As preliminary to this inquiry, an 
attempt must be made to determine more closely the relationship 
of the Didot- Perceval to the Conte du Graal whether it be wholly 
derived from the latter, or whether it may have preserved through 
other sources traces of a different form of the story than that found 
in Chrestien.* 

* I have iiot thought it necessary, or even advisable, to notice what the 
"Encyclopaedia Britannica" (Part XLI, pp. 34, 35) and some other English 
" authorities" say about the Grail legends. 


Relationship of the JDidot-Perceval to the Conte du Graal The former not 
the source of the latter Relationship of the Conte du Graal and the 
Mabinogi Instances in which the Mabinogi has copied Chrestien 
Examples of its independence The incident of the blood drops in 
the snow Differences between the two works The machinery of the 
Mabinogi and the traces of it in the Conte du Graal The stag-hunt 
The Mabinogi and Manessier The sources of the Conte du Graal 
and the relation of the various parts to a common original Sir Perceval 
Steinbach's theory Objections to it The counsels in the Conte du 
Graal Wolfram and the Mabinogi Absence of the Grail from the 
apparently oldest Celtic form. 

IN examining the relationship of the Didot- Perceval to the Conte du 
Graal, the sequence of the incidents is of importance. This is 
shown in the subjoined table (where the numbers given are those 
of the incidents as summarized, chapter II), in which the Didot- 
Perceval sequence is taken as the standard. 



2. Perceval sets forth in quest 
of the rich fisher. 

3. Finds a damsel weeping over 
a knight. Adventure with 
dwarf and the Orgellos 

4. Arrival at the Chessboard 

Castle. Adventure of the 
stag hunt and loss of the 

5. Meeting with sister; instruc- 

tion concerning the Grail ; 
vow to seek it. 

6. Meeting with, confession to, 

and exhortation from her- 
mit uncle. 



11. Only after the reproaches 
of the loathly damsel does 
Perceval first set forth in 
quest of the Grail. 

8. In so far as finding a 
damsel weeping over a 
dead knight, and (9) for 
overcoming the Orgellous 
de la Lande. 

15. After the Good Friday in- 



9. In so far as a damsel is found 
lamenting over a knight. 

7 and 8. 





7. Disregard of uncle's exhor- 

tations (slaying a knight), 
through thinking of damsel 
of the Chessboard. 

8. Meeting with Rosette and 

Le BeauMauvais (the loath- 
ly damsel). 

9. Adventure at the Ford with 


10. The two children in the tree. 

1 1. First arrival at Grail Castle. 

12. Reproaches of the wayside 


13. Meeting with the damsel 

who ha<5 carried off the 
stag's head and hound, and 
second visit to Castle of 
the Chessboard. 

14. Period (7 years) of despair 

ended by the Good Friday 

15. Tournament at Melianz de 

Lis. Merlin's reproaches. 

16. Second arrival at Grail Castle. 

Achievement of Quest. 


In so far as in both the 
hero is reproached by a 
wayside damsel. 

13. But told of Gawain not 
of Perceval. 



12. In so far as a knight is slain, 

but before the meeting 

with the hermit. 

9. Ford Amorous; entirely 
different adventure. 

20. One child. 

and 18. Many adventures 
being intercalated. 


The different sequence in the D id ot- Perceval and Chrestien 
may be explained, as Birch-Hirschfeld explains it, by the freedom 
which Chrestien allowed himself in re-casting the "work; bnt why 
should Gautier, who, ex liypothesi, simply took up from Chrestien's 
model such adventures as his predecessor had omitted, have 
acted in precisely the same way ? If the theory were correct we 
should expect to find the non- Chrestien incidents of the Didot- 
Perceval brought together in at least fairly the same order in 
Gautier. A glance at the table shows that this is not the case. 
In one incident, moreover, the Didot-Perceval is obviously right 
and Gautier obviously wrong, namely, in his incident 12, where the 
slaying of the knight before the hero's meeting the hermit takes 
away all point from the incident. An absolutely decisive proof 
that that portion of the Conte du Graal which goes under Gautier's 
name (though it is by no means clear that all of it is of the same 
age or due to one man), cannot be based upon the Didot-Perceval 
^s we now possess it, is afforded by the adventure of the Ford 


Amorous or Perillous, which in the two versions is quite dissimilar. 
This incident stands out pre-eminent in the Didot-Perceval for 
its wild and fantastic character. It is a genuine Celtic marchen, 
with much of the weird charm still clinging to it that is the birth- 
right of the Celtic folk-tale. It is inadmissible that Gautier could 
have substituted for this fine incident the commonplace one which 
he gives. 

If, then, it is out of the question that Gautier borrowed directly 
from the Didot-Perceval, how are the strong resemblances which 
exist in part between the two versions to be accounted for ? Some 
of these resemblances have already been quoted (supra, p. 75), the 
remainder may be usefully brought together here.* 

First arrival at the Castle of the Chessboard 


Li plus biaux chasteaux del monde et Le bel castiel que je vos dis 

vit le pont abeissie et la porte 

defferme (p. 43^). Et vit si bieles les entrees 

Et les grans portes desfremees (22,395, 
etc.) ; 

The damsel exhorts him not to throw the chessman into the water 

Votre cors est esmeuz a grant vilainie Car 9011 serai t grans vilonie (22,503). 
faire (p. 440). 

Perceval having slain the stag, sees its head carried off 

Si vint une veille sor un palestoi grant Tine puciele de malaire 

aleure et prist le bracket et s'en Vint cevau9ant parmi la lande 
ala or tot (p. 442). Voit le bruket, plus ne demande 

Par le coler d'orfrois le prist 

Si s'en aloit grant aleure (22,604, etc.). 

On Perceval threatening to take it away from her by force she 

Sire Chevalier, force n'est mie droit et Force a faire n'est mie drois 

force me poez bien faire (p. 443). Et force me poes vos faire (22,640). 

In the subsequent fight with the Knight of the Tomb, he, 

Se torna vers le tonbel grant aleure et Que fuiant vait grant aleure 
li tombeaux s'enleva centre moult Vers 1'arket et la sepouture 
et chevalier s'en feri enz (p. 444). Si est entres plus tost qu'ilpot (22,723, 


They are brought together by Hucher, vol. i, p. 383, etc. 



In the description of Rosette (the loathly damsel) 

Ele avoit le col et les mains plus Le col avoit plus noir que fer (25,409). 
noires et le vier, que fer. . . (p. 453) . 

When the loathly damsel and her knight come to Arthur's 
court, Kay jests as follows : 

Lors pria (i.e., Kay) le chevalier par Biaus sire, 

la foi que il devoit, le roi, qui li Dites moi, si Dex le vos mire, 

deist ou il 1'avoit prise et si en Si plus en a en voetre terre, 

porroit une autre tele avoir, si il line autele en iroie querre 

1'aloit querre (p. 457). Si jou le quidoie trover (25,691 etc.). 

These similarities are too great to be accidental. It will be 
noticed, however, that they bear chiefly upon two adventures : that 
of the chessboard and stag hunt, and that of the loathly maiden. 
As to the latter, it is only necessary to allude to Birch-Hirschfeld's 
idea that Rosette is the original of the damsel who reproaches 
Perceval before the court with his conduct at the Grail Castle, 
a theory to state which is to refute it. The former adventure will 
be closely examined in the following section. There is no need to 
suppose direct borrowing on the part of one or the other versions 
to account for the parallel in these two incidents; a common original 
closely followed at times by both would meet the requirements of 
the case. It is difficult to admit that the author of the Didot- 
Perceval used Gautier's continuation and not Chrestien's original, 
especially when the following fact, strangely overlooked by both 
Birch-Hirschf eld and Hucher, is taken into account : Perceval on 
his first arrival at the Grail Castle keeps silence (as will be seen by 
a reference to the summary, supra, p. 31), because, " li souvenoit 
du prodome qui li avoit deffandu que ne fusttrop pallier," etc. As 
a matter of fact, the " prodome " had forbidden nothing of the sort, 
and this casual sentence is the first allusion to the motive upon 
which Chrestien lays so much stress as explaining his hero's 
mysterious conduct at the Grail Castle. Evidently the Didot- 
Perceval, which, to whoever considers it impartially, is an obvious 
abridgment and piecing together of material from different sources, 
found in one of its sources an episode corresponding to that of 
Gonemans in Chrestien. But its author, influenced probably by the 


Galahad version of the Quest, substituted for the "childhood" open- 
ing of this hypothetical source the one now found in his version, 
and the Gonemans episode went with the remainder of that part of 
the story. When the hero comes to the Grail Castle, the author is 
puzzled ; his hero knows beforehand what he has to do, sets out 
with the distinct purpose of doing it, and yet remains silent. To 
account for this silence the author uses the motive belonging to a 
discarded episode, but applies the words to his hermit, forgetting 
that he had put no such words into his month, and that, attributed 
to him, the injunction to keep silence became simply meaningless. 
Is the model treated in this way by the Di dot-Perceval Chrestien's 
poem ? Hardly, for this reason. After the Good Friday incident 
occurs the remarkable passage, quoted (supra, p. 31), as to the 
silence of the trouveres respecting it. Chrestien gives the incident 
in full, and the author of the Perceval could have had no reason 
for his stricture, or could not have ventured it had he been using 
Chrestien's work. Two hypotheses then remain; the unknown 
source may have been a version akin to that used by Chrestien 
and Gautier, or it may have been a summary abridgment of the 
Conte du Graal, in which, inter alia, the Good Friday incident was 
left out. In either case the presence of the passage in the Perceval 
is equally hard of explanation ; but the first hypothesis is favoured 
by the primitive character of the incident of the Ford Perillous, 
and several other features which will be touched upon in their 
place. The Didot-Perceval would thus be an attempt to provide 
an ending for Borron's poem by adapting to its central donnee a 
version of the Perceval sage akin to that which forms the ground- 
work of the Conte du Graal, its author being largely influenced by 
the Galahad form of the Quest as found in the Queste. If this 
view be correct, the testimony of Perceval (wherever not influenced 
by Borron's poem or the Queste) is of value in determining the 
original form of the story, the more so from the author's evident 
want of skill in piecing together his materials. It will, therefore, 
be used in the following section, which deals with the relationship 
of the Conte du Graal and the Mabinogi of Peredur ab Evrawc. 

Relationship of the Conte du Graal and the Mabinoyi. As was 
seen in Chapter IV, opinion began with Monsieur de Villemarque 

K 2 


by accepting the Mabinogi as the direct source of the Conte du 
Graal, and has ended with Zarncke and Birch-Hirschfeld in 
looking upon it as a more or less direct copy. The most com- 
petent of living scholars in this matter, M. Gaston Paris, has 
expressed himself in favour of this opinion in his recent article 
on the Lancelot story (Romania, 1886).* Before dealing with 
the question as presented in this form, Simrock's view, differing 
as it does from that of all other investigators, deserves notice. 
He, too, looks upon the Mabinogi as derived from Chrestien, and 
yet bases his interpretation of the myth underlying the romance 
upon a feature, the bleeding head in the dish, found only in it. 
But if the Mabinogi have really preserved here the genuine form 
of the myth, it must represent an older version than Chrestien's, 
and if, on the other hand, Chrestien be its only source, the feature 
in question cannot belong to the earliest form of the story. 
Simrock's theory stands then or falls in this respect by ihe 
view taken of the relationship between the two versions, and 
need not be discussed until that view has been stated. 

To facilitate comparison, the incidents common to the two 
stories are tabulated as under, those of the Mabinogi being taken 
as the standard : 


Inc. Inc. CArestien. 

1. Encounter with the knights. 1. 

2. Adventure with the damsel of the 2. 


3. Avenging of the insult to Guine- 3 and 4. 

vere ; incident of the dwarves ; 
departure from Court. 

5. Arrival at house of first uncle 5. Gonemans. 

(found fishing) ; instruction in 

6. Arrival at, house of second uncle 7. Uncle found fishing ; talismans, 

(Grail Castle). First sight of Grail and lance, 

the talismans (head in basin and 
lance) . 

* In the preface to the second volume of his edition of Chrestien's works 
(Halle, 1887), W. Forster distinguishes Pcredur from the Lady of the Fountain 
und from Geraint, which he looks upon as simple copies of Chrestien's poems 
dealing with the same subjects. Peredur has, he thinks, some Welsh features. 





7. Reproaches of foster-sister whom 

he finds lamenting over a dead 

8. Adventure with the damsel of the 

besieged castle who offers herself 
to hero. 

9. Second meeting with the lady of 

the tent. 

10. First encounter with the sorce- 

resses of Gloucester, who are 
forced to desist from assailing 
hero's hostess. 

11. Adventure of the drops of blood 

in the snow. 

20. Reproaching of Peredur before the 

Court by the loathly damsel. 

21. Gwalchmai's adventure with the 

lady whose father he had slain. 

22. Peredur's meeting the knight on 

Good Friday, and confession to 

24. Arrival at the Castle of Wonders 

(Chessboard Castle) ; stag hunt ; 
loss of dog ; fight with the black 
man of the cromlech. 

25. Second arrival at the (Grail) castle; 

achievement of the Quest by 
destruction of sorceresses of 
Gloucester. " Thus it is related 
concerning the Castle of Won- 


8. Reproached by his cousin ; also 
instructed by her about the 
magic sword. 

6. Blanchefleur, Gonemant's niece. 


. Hermit, hero's uncle. 

G antler. 
Inc. 7, 8, and partly 13 and 18. 

22. In so far as Gautier ends his part 
of the story here with the hero's 
second arrival at the Grail 
Castle, but no similarity in the 

The sequence is thus exactly the same in the Mabinogi and in 
Chrestien, with the single exception of the Blanchefleur incident, 
which, in the French poem precedes, in the Welsh tale follows, 
the first visit to the Grail Castle. The similarity of order is suffi- 
cient of itself to warrant the surmise of a relation such as that of 
copy to original. If the Mabinogi be examined closely, much 
will be found to strengthen this surmise. Thus, Birch-Hirschfeld 
has pointed out that when Peredur first sees the knights, and on 
asking his mother what they may be, receives the answer, "Angels, 


my son " ; this can only be a distorted reminiscence of Perceval's 
own exclamation, 

. . . Ha ! sire Dex, Merchi ! 

Ce sont angle que je voi ci ! (1,349-50). 

as the hero's mother would be the last person to describe thus the 
knights whom she has done her best to guard her son from 
knowledge of. Again, Simrock has criticised, and with reason, 
the incident of Peredur's being acclaimed by the dwarf on his 
arrival at Arthur's court as the chief of warriors and flower of 
knighthood. In the corresponding incident in Chrestien, the 
hero is told laughingly by a damsel that he should become the 
best knight in the world, and she had not laughed for ten years, 
as a fool had been wont to declare. This is an earlier form than 
that of the Mabinogi, and closer to the folk-tale account. Thus, 
to take one instance only, in Mr. Kennedy's Giolla na Chroicean 
Gobhar (Fellow with the Goat-skin) [Fictions of the Irish Celts, 
p. 23], the hero comes to the King of Dublin, as Peredur to Arthur, 
clad in skins and armed with a club. " Now, the King's daughter 
was so melancholy that she didn't laugh for seven years, but when 
she saw Tom of the Goat-skin knock over all her father's best 
champions, then she let a great sweet laugh out of her," and of 
course Tom marries her, but not until he has been through all 
sorts of trials, aye, even to Hell itself and back. In Chrestien, the 
primitive form is already overlaid ; we hear nothing further of 
the damsel moved to laughter nor of the prophetic fool ; and in the 
Mabinogi it seems obvious that the hailing of the hero, added in 
Chrestien to the older laughter, has alone subsisted. Birch -Hirsch- 
feld takes exception likewise to the way in which Peredur's two 
uncles are brought upon the scene, the first one, corresponding 
to Gonemans in Chrestien, being found fishing instead of the real 
Fisher King, the lord of the Castle of the Magic Talismans, whilst 
at the latter's, Peredur has to undergo trials of his strength 
belonging properly to his stay at the first uncle's. Evidently, says 
Birch-Hirschfeld, there has been a confusion of the two personages. 
Again, when Peredur leaves his second uncle on the morrow of 
seeing the bleeding head and spear, it is said, " he rode forth with 


his uncle's permission." Can these words be a reminiscence of 
Chrestien's ? 

Et trueve le pont abaiscie, 

C'on li avoit ensi laissie 

Por ce que rien nel detenist, 

De quele eure qu'il venist 

Que il lie passat sans arriest (4,565-69). 

We shall see later on that in the most primitive form of the 
unsuccessf ul visit to the Castle of the Talismans the hero finds him- 
self on the morrow on the bare earth, the castle itself having 
vanished utterly. The idea of permission being given to leave is 
diametrically opposed to this earliest conception, and its presence 
in the Mabinogi seems only capable of explanation by some mis- 
understanding of the story-teller's model. 

The Blanchefleur incident shows some verbal parallels, " The 
maiden welcomed Peredur and put her arms around his neck." 

Et la damosele le prent 
Par le main d^bonnairement (3,025-26) 
Et voit celi ajenouillie 
Devant son lit qui le tenoit 
Par le col embraciet estroit (3,166-68). 

Can, too, the " two nuns," who bring in bread and wine, be due 
to the " II Abeies," which Perceval sees on entering Blanchefleur's 
town ? It may be noticed that in this scene the Welsh story-teller 
is not only more chaste, but shows much greater delicacy of feeling 
than the French poet. Peredur 's conduct is that of a gentleman 
according to nineteenth century standards. Chrestien, however, is 
probably nearer the historical reality, and the conduct of his pair 

S'il 1'a sor le covertoir mise 


Ensi giurent tote la nuit. 

is so singularly like that of a Welsh bundling couple, that it seems 
admissible to refer the colouring given to this incident to Welsh 
sources. Another scene presenting marked similarities in the two 
works is that in which the hero is upbraided before the court by the 
loathly damsel. In the Mabinogi she enters riding upon a yellow 
mule with jagged tlwngs : in Chrestien 


Sor tine fauve mule et tint 

En sa main destre une escorgie (5,991-2). 

" Blacker were her face and her two hands than the blackest iron 
covered with pitch." 

Ains ne velstes si noir fer 

Come ele ot les mains et le cor (5,998-99). 

" And she greeted Arthur and all his household except Peredur." 

Le roi et ses barons salue 

Tout ensamble comunalment 

Fors ke Perceval seulement (6,020-3). 

In the Mabinogi, Peredur is reproached for not having asked 
about the streaming spear ; in Chrestien " la lance qui saine " is 
mentioned first although the Grail is added. Had Peredur asked 
the meaning and cause of the wonders, the " King would have 
been restored to health, and his dominions to peace." 

Li rices rois qui moult s'esmaie 

Fust or tos garis de sa plaie 

Et si tenist sa tiere en pais (6,049-51). 

Whereas now " his knights will perish, and wives will be 
widowed, and maidens will be left portionless " 

Pames en perdront lor maris, 

Tieres en seront essilies, 

Et pucieles desconsellies ; 

Orfenes, veves en remanront 

Et maint chevalier en morront (6,056, etc.). 

In the " Stately Castle" where dwells the loathly damsel, are 
five hundred and sixty-six knights, and " the lady whom he loves 
best with each," in " Castle Orguellos " five hundred and seventy, 
and not one ** qui n'ait s'amie avoeques lui." " And whoever 
would acquire fame in arms and encounters and conflicts, he will 
gain it there if he desire it." 

Que la ne faut nus ki i alle, 

Qui la ne truist joste u batalle ; 

Qui viout faire chevalerie, 

Si la le quiert, n'i faura mie (6,075, etc.). 

" And whoso would reach the summit of fame and honour, I 

know where he may find it. There is a castle on a lofty mountain, 



and there is a maiden therein, and she is detained a prisoner there, 
and whoever shall set her free will attain the summit of the fame 
of the world." 

Mais ki vorroit le pris avoir 

De tout le mont, je quic savoir 

Le liu et la piece de terre 

U on le porroit mius conquerre ; 

* # # * * 

A une damoisiele assise ; 

Moult grant honor aroit conquise, 

Qui le siege en poroit oster 

Et la puciele delivrer (6,080, etc.). 

In this last case certainly, in the other cases probably, a direct 
influence, to the extent at least of the passages quoted, must be 
admitted. But before concluding hastily that the Welsh story-teller 
is the copyist, some facts must be mentioned on the other side. 
Thus the incident of the blood drops in the snow, which Birch - 
Hirschfeld sets down as one of those taken over by the Mabinogi, 
with the remark that the Welsh story contains no trace of a passion 
as strong as Perceval's for Blanchefleur, has been dealt with by 
Professor H. Zimmerin his " Keltische Studien," vol. ii, pp. 200. 
He refers to the awakening of Deirdre's love to Noisi by similar 
means, as found in the Irish saga of the Sons of Usnech (oldest MS. 
authority, Book of Leinster, copied before 1164 from older MSS.) as 
evidence of the early importance of this motif in Celtic tradition. 
The passage runs thus in English : " As her foster-father was busy 
in winter time skinning a calf out in the snow, she beheld a 
raven which drank np the blood in the snow ; and she exclaimed, 
' Such a man could I love, and him only, having the three colours, 
his hair like the raven, his cheeks like the blood, his body like the 
snow.' " 

Now the Mabinogi says, almost in the same words the black- 
ness of the raven and the whiteness of the snow, and the redness 
of the blood he compared to the hair and the skin and the two red 
spots upon the cheek of the lady that best he loved. In Chrestien 
there is no raven, and the whole stress is laid upon the three drops 
of blood on the snow, which put the hero in mind of the red and 
white of his lady's face. As Zimmer justly points out, the version 


of the Mabinogi is decidedly the more primitive of the two ; and 
that, moreover, as the incident does not figure at all in what Birch - 
Hirschfeld presumes to be Chrestien's source, the Didot-Perceval, 
the following development of this incident must, ex Jiypothesi, have 
taken place. In the Didot-Perceval the hero is once upon a time 
lost in thought. To explain this, Chrestien invents the incident 
of the three drops of blood in the snow ; the Mabinogi, copying 
Chrestien, presents the incident in almost as primitive a form as 
the oldest known one ! Here, then, the Mabinogi has preserved an 
older form than Chrestien, alleged to have been its source in all 
those parts common to both. Nor is it certain that the fact of 
Peredur's undergoing the sword-test in the Talisman Castle does 
show, as Birch-Hirschfeld maintains, that the Welsh story-teller 
confused the two personages whom he took over from Chrestien, 
Gonemans and the Fisher King. The sword incident will be 
examined later on ; suffice here to say that no explanation is given 
in the Conte du Graal of the broken weapon ; whereas the Mabinogi 
does give a simple and natural one. But these two instances cannot 
weaken the force of the parallels adduced above. In determining, 
however, whether these may not be due to Chrestien's being the 
borrower, the differences between the two versions are of even more 
importance than the similarities. 

What are these ? The French romances belonging to the Perceval 
type of the Grail quest give two versions of the search for the magic 
talismans, that of the Conte du Graal and that of the Didot-Perceval. 
The latter pre-supposes an early history which, as already shown, 
cannot be looked upon as the starting point of the legend without 
postulating such a development of the latter as is inadmissible on 
a priori grounds, and as runs counter to many well-ascertained 
facts. The former is not consistent with itself, Manessier's finish 
contradicting Chrestien's opening on such an essential point as 
the cause of the maimed Ring's suffering. Still the following 
outline of a story, much overlaid by apparently disconnected 
adventures, may be gathered from it. A hero has to seek for 
magic talismans wherewith to heal an uncle wounded by his 
brother, and at the same time to avenge him on that brother. 
What, on the other hand, is the story as told in the Mabinogi ? 


A hero is minded by talismans to avenge the death of a cousin 
(and the harming of an uncle) ; it is not stated that the talismans 
pass into his possession. It is difficult to admit that either of these 
forms can have served as direct model to the other. If the 
Mabinogi be a simple copy of the Conte du Graal, whence 
the altered significance of the talismans ? whence also the 
machinery by means of which the hero is at last brought to his 
goal, and which is, briefly, as follows ? The woe which has 
befallen Peredur's kindred is caused by supernatural beings, the 
sorceresses of Gloucester ; his ultimate achievement of the task is 
brought about by his cousin, who, to urge him on, assumes the 
form (1) of the black and loathly damsel ; (2) of the damsel of 
the chessboard, who incites him to the Ysbydinongyl adventure, 
reproves him for not slaying the black man at once, and then urges 
him into the stag hunt ; (3) of the lady who carries off the hound 
and sends him to fight against the black man of the cromlech ; 
" and the cousin it was who came in the hall with the bloody head 
in the salver and the lance dripping blood." The whole of the 
incidents connected with the Castle of the Chessboard, which 
appear at such length in both the Conte du Graal and the Didot- 
Perceval, but without being in any way connected with the main 
thread of the story, thus form in the Mabinogi an integral portion 
of that main thread. Would the authors of the Conte du Graal have 
neglected the straight-forward version of the Welsh tale had they 
known it, or could, on the other hand, the author of the Mabinogi 
have worked up the disconnected incidents of his alleged model 
into an organic whole ? Neither hypothesis is likely. Moreover 
the Conte du Graal and the Didot-Perceval, if examined with care, 
show distinct traces of a machinery similar to that of the Welsh 
story. Thus in Chrestien, Perceval, on arriving at the Fisher 
King's, sees a squire bringing into the room a sword of such good 
steel that it might break in but one peril, and this the King's 
niece (i.e., Perceval's cousin) had sent her uncle to bestow it as 
he pleased ; and the King gives it to the hero for 
i . . biaus frere ceste espee 
Vous fu jugie et destine6 (4,345-6). 

After Perceval's first adventure at the Grail Castle it is his 


" germaine cousine " (4,776) who assails him with her reproaches ; 
she knows all about the sword (4,835-38) and tells him, how, if it 
be broken he may have it mended (4,847-59). So far Chrestien, 
who furthermore, be it noted, makes Blanchefleur Perceval's lady- 
love, likewise his cousin, she being niece to Gonemans (3,805-95). 
A cousin is thus beloved of him, a cousin procures for him the 
magic sword, a cousin, as in the Mabinogi, incites him to the 
fulfilment of the quest, and gives him advice which we cannot 
doubt would have been turned to account by Chrestien had he 
finished his poem. Turning now to Gautier, in whose section of 
the poem are to be found the various adventures growing out 
of the chessboard incident, this difference between the Mabinogi 
and himself may be noted. In the former, these adventures caused 
by Peredur's cousin serve apparently as tests of the hero's strength 
and courage. The loss of the chessboard is the starting-point of 
the task, and the cousin reappears as the black maiden. Nothing 
of the sort is found in Gautier. True, the damsel who reproaches 
Perceval is in so far supernatural, as she is a kind of water-nix, 
but it is love for her which induces the hero to perform the task ; 
she it is, too, who lends him the dog, and she is not identified with 
the "pucelle de malaire" who carries it off (22,604, etc.). But 
later on Perceval meets a knight who tells him that a daughter of 
the Fisher King's (thus also a cousin of Perceval) had related to 
him how a knight had carried off a stag's head and hound to anger 
another good knight who had been at her father's court, and had 
not asked as he should concerning the Grail, for which reason she 
had taken his hound and had refused him help to follow the robber 
knight (23,163, etc.). This makes the " pucelle de malaire " to be 
Perceval's cousin, and she plays the same role as in the Mabinogi. 
True, when later on (Incident 13) Perceval finds the damsel, 
nothing is said as to her being the Fisher King's daughter ; on the 
contrary, as will be seen by the summary, a long story is told 
about the Knight of the Tomb, brother to her knight, Garalas, and 
how he lived ten years with a fay. She is here quite distinct from 
the lady of the chessboard to whom Perceval returns later. The 
version found in the Didot-Perceval agrees with the Mabinogi as 
Against Gautier in so far that the hero is in love with the mistress 


of the castle, and not with the damsel who reproaches him for 
throwing away the chessmen. This reproaching damsel is not in 
any way identified with the lady who carries off the hound, who is 
described as " une vieille," and of whom it is afterwards told " elle 
estoit qiiand elle voloit une des plus belles damoiselles du monde. 
Et est cele meismes que mon frere (the brother of the Knight of 
the Tomb, who here, as in Gautier, is the lover of a fay) amena a la 
forest," i.e., she is the fay herself, sister to thelady of the Chessboard 
Castle, who hated her and wished to diminish her and her knight's 
pride (p. 469). Here, again, a connection can be pieced out 
between the various personages of the adventure ; and it appears 
that the hero is driven to his fight against the Knight of the Tomb 
by a fair damsel transformed into a mysterious hag.* The 
Mabinogi thus gives one consistently worked-out conception 
transformed hag=Peredur's cousin which may be recovered 
partly from that one of the two discordant versions found in 
Gautier which makes the pucelle de malaire to be the Fisher King's 
daughter, hence Perceval's cousin, and connects the stag hunt with 
the Grail incident, partly from the Didot- Perceval, which tells how 
the same pucelle de malaire is but playing a part, being when she 
wills one of the fairest maids of the world. Now we have seen 
that the stag hunt is just one of those portions of the story in which 
are found the closest verbal similarities between Gautier de Doulens 
and the Didot- Perceval. It is, therefore, perplexing to find that 
there is not more likeness in the details of the incident. But the 
similarities pointed out concern chiefly the first part of the incident, 
and are less prominent in the latter part (the hero's encounter 
with the Knight of the Tomb). This, taken together with the 
difference in the details of the incident just pointed out, strengthens 
the opinion expressed above, that the Didot- Perceval and Gautier 

* It is perhaps only a coincidence that in Gautier the " pucelle de malaire " 
is named Eiseut la Bloie, and that Rosette la Blonde is the name of the loathly 
damsel whom Perceval meets in company of the Beau Mauvais, and whom Birch- 
Hirschfeld supposes to have suggested to Chrestien his loathly damsel, the Grail 
messenger. But from the three versions one gets the following : Kiseut 
(Gautier), loathly damsel (Didot-Perceval), Grail messenger (Chrestien), = 
Peredur's cousin, who in the Mabinogi is the loathly Grail messenger, and the 
protagonist in the stag-hunt. 


are not connected directly but through, the medium of a common 
source, the influence of which can be seen distinctly in certain 
portions of either story, and that when this source fails they go 
widely asunder in their accounts. That such an hypothesis is not 
unreasonable is shown by the fact that Gautier has two contra- 
dictory forms of this very story, one of which, that which makes 
the hound-stealing damsel a daughter of the Fisher King, is on 
all fours with the Mabinogi, whilst the other is more akin to, 
though differing in important respects from, that of the Didot- 
Perceval. In this case, at least, Gautier must have had two 
sources, and if two why not more ? 

It may be urged in explanation of the similarities between 
Gautier and the Mabinogi, tha/t the author of the latter used 
Gautier in the same free way that he did Chrestien, but that 
getting tired towards the close of his work he abridged in a much 
more summary fashion than at first. If the comparison of the 
versions of the stag hunt found in either work be not sufficient to 
refute this theory, the following consideration may be advanced 
against it : if the Mabinogi derives entirely from the Conte du 
Graal, how can the different form given to the Grail episode be 
accounted for ? if it only knew Chrestien, where did it get the 
chessboard adventure from, and if it knew Gautier as well as 
Chrestien why did it not finish the Grail adventure upon the same 
lines as it began, i.e., partly in conformity with its alleged model ? 

Is Manessier any nearer than Gautier to the Mabinogi in the 
later portion of the tale ? The chief points of the story told by him 
may be recapitulated thus : The Grail damsel is daughter of the 
Fisher King, the damsel of the salver, daughter of King Goon 
Desert, his brother (i.e., both are cousins to Perceval) ; Goon Desert, 
besieged by Espinogre, defeats him, but is treacherously slain by 
his nephew Partinal, the latter's sword breaking in the blow. 
Goon's body is brought to the Fisher King's castle, whither the 
broken sword is likewise brought by Goon's daughter to be kept 
until a knight should come, join together the pieces, and avenge 
Goon's death. In receiving the sword the Fisher King wounds 
himself through the thighs, and may not be healed until he be 
avenged on Partinal. Perceval asks how he may find the 


murderer, the blood vengeance (faide = O.H.G. Fehde) being on 
him. Perceval fights with Partinal, slays him, cuts off his head as 
token of his victory, returns to the Fisher King's castle, lighting 
upon it by chance, heals the Fisher King by the mere sight of the 
head, which is fixed on a pike on the highest battlements. At the 
death of his uncle Perceval succeeds him as King of the Grail Castle. 
Here, then, as in the Mabinogi, the story turns definitely upon a 
blood feud; the same act which brings about the death of one 
relative of the hero, also causes, indirectly, it is true, the laming 
of another, even as in the Mabinogi the same supernatural beings 
kill Peredur's cousin and lame his uncle; the cousin reappears 
again, bringing the magic sword by whose aid alone the hero can 
accomplish the vengeance, and uttering the prediction the fulfil- 
ment of which will point out the destined avenger. Finally, if the 
Mabinogi seems to lay special stress upon the head of the murdered 
man, Manessier lays special stress upon the head of the murderer. 
Now it is quite evident that the Mabinogi cannot have copied 
Manessier. It has been alleged that the "Welsh story-teller, 
adapting Chrestien to the taste of his fellow countrymen, substi- 
tuted a blood feud for the Grail Quest, but what reason would he 
have had for thus dealing with Manessier ? He had simply to leave 
out the Christian legendary details, which in Manessier are, one can 
hardly say, adapted to the older form of the story, to find in that older 
form a clear and straightforward account with no admixture of 
mystical elements. It is impossible to explain the strong general 
similarity of outline with the equally marked divergences of detail 
(Sorceresses of Gloucester instead of Partinal, etc.,) except by 
saying that both, though going back to a common legendary 
source, are unconnected one with another. 

The facts thus dealt with may be recapitulated as follows : 
There is marked similarity in general outline between the Mabinogi 
and the Conte du Graal in the adventures common to both ; in 
that portion of the Conte du Graal due to Chrestien there occur, 
moreover, many and close verbal parallels, and the corresponding 
part of the Mabinogi is told at greater length than the remainder 
of the incidents common to both works. That which answers in 
the Mabinogi to the Grail Quest forms a clear and straightforward 


whole, the main features of which may be recovered from the Conte 
da Graal, but in varying proportions from the various sections of 
that work. Thus the indications of this Mabinogi talisman quest, 
the central intrigue, as it may be called, of the tale, are in 
Chrestien of the slightest nature, being confined to passing hints ; 
in Gautier they are fuller and more precise, though pointing to a 
version of the central intrigue different, not only in details but 
in conception, from that of the Mabinogi ; in Manessier alone is 
there agreement of conception, although the details still vary. 
Finally, those portions of the Mabinogi which are in closest verbal 
agreement with Chrestien contain statements which cannot easily 
be reconciled with this central intrigue. 

These facts seem to warrant some such deductions as these. 
Bearing in mind that the Mabinogi is an obvious piecing together 
of all sorts of incidents relating to its hero, the only connecting 
link being that of his personality, its author may be supposed, 
when compiling his work, to have stretched out his hand in all 
directions for material. Now a portion of the Peredur sage con- 
sisted of adventures often found elsewhere in the folk-tale cycles 
of the Great Fool and the Avenging Kinsman cycles which, in 
Celtic tradition, at least, cover almost the same ground as the 
one described by J. G. von Hahn under the title, "Die Arische 
Aussetzung und Ruckkehr-Formel." In the original of the 
Mabinogi this portion probably comprised the childhood and 
forest up-bringing, the visit to Arthur with the accompanying 
incidents, the training by the uncle (who may have been the Fisher 
King), the arrival at the (bespelled) castle, where the hero is to be 
minded of his task by the sight of certain talismans and of his 
cousin's head, the reproaches of the loathly damsel, her subsequent 
testing of the hero by the adventures of the chessboard, stag hunt, 
etc., the hero's final accomplishment of the task, vengeance on his 
kindred's enemies, and removal of the spells. There would seem 
to have been no such love story as that frequently found in stories 
of the Great Fool class, e.g., in the Irish one (supra, p. 134). This 
original was probably some steps removed from being a genuine 
popular version ; the incidents were presented in a way at once 
9ver-concise and confused, and some which, as will be seen in the 


next chapter, the living folk-tale has preserved were left out or 
their significance was not recognized. What more natural than 
that the author of the Mabinogi in its present form, knowing 
Chrestien, should piece out his bare, bald narrative with shreds and 
patches from the Frenchman's poem ? The moment Chrestien fails 
him, he falls back into the hurried concision of his original. His 
adaptation of Chrestien is done with singularly little skill, and at 
times he seems to have misunderstood his model. He confines his 
borrowing to matters of detail, not allowing, for instance, Chrestien's 
presentment of the Grail incident to supersede that of his Welsh 
original. In one point he may, following Chrestien, have made 
a vital change. It seems doubtful whether the Welsh source of 
the Mabinogi knew of a maimed king, an uncle to be healed 
through the hero's agency ; the sole task may have been the 
avenging the cousin's death. True the " lame uncle " appears at 
the end, but this may be due to some sudden desire for consistency 
on the arranger's part. But whether or no he was found in the 
Welsh story preserved in the Mabinogi, he certainly played no such 
leading part as in the Conte du Graal. The two stories deal with 
the same cycle of adventures, but the object of the hero is not the 
same in both, and, consequently, the machinery employed is not 
quite the same. The present Mabinogi is an unskilful fusion of 
these two variations upon the one theme.* 

Light is also thrown by this investigation upon the question of 
Chrestien's relationship to his continuators. Birch-Hirschfeld's 
theory that the Didot-Perceval was the source of Chrestien 
and G-autier has already been set aside. Apart from the reasons 
already adduced, the fact that it does not explain from whence 
Manessier got his ending of the story would alone condemn it. It 
must now be evident that Chrestien and two of his continuators drew 
from one source, and this a poem of no great length probably, the 
main outlines of which were nearly the same as those of the Welsh 
proto -Mabinogi given above, with this difference, that the story 
turned upon the healing of the uncle and not the avenging the 

* I have not thought it necessary to discuss seriously the hypothesis that 
Chrestien may have used the Mabinogi as we now have it. The foregoing state- 
ment of the facts is sufficient to negative it. 


cousin's death. This poem, which seems also to have served, 
directly or indirectly, as one of the sources of the Didot- Perceval, 
had probably departed from popular lines in many respects, and 
may, though this would be an exceedingly difficult question to de- 
termine, have begun the incorporation of the Joseph of Arimathea 
legend with its consequent wresting to purposes of Christian sym- 
bolisms of the objects and incidents of the old folk- tale. 

Such an incorporation had almost certainly begun before 
Chrestien's time, and was continued by him. There can be little 
doubt that he dealt with his model in a free and daring spirit, 
altering and adding as seemed best to him. This alone explains 
how Manessier, slavishly following the common original, tells 
differently the cause of the lame king's wound. Gautier, who 
lacked Chrestien'g creative power, though he often equals him in 
the grace and vivacity of his narrative, seems to have had no con- 
ception of a plan ; the section of Conte du Graal which goes under 
his name is a mere disorderly heap of disconnected adventures 
brought together without care for consistency. But for this very 
reason he is of more value in restoring the original form of the 
story than Chrestien, who, striving after consistency, harmony, and 
artistic development of his tale, alters, adds to, or retrenches from 
the older version. Gautier had doubtless other sources besides the 
one made use of by Chrestien. This does not seem to be the case 
with Manessier, who, for this portion of the story, confined himself 
to Chrestien's original, without taking note of the differences in 
motif introduced by his predecessor. What is foreign to it he 
drew from sources familiar to us, the Queste and Grand S. Graal, 
from which more than two-thirds of his section are derived. 

In working back to the earliest form of the Perceval-sa^e, 
Mabinogi and Conte du Graal are thus of equal value and mutually 
complementary. Both are second-hand sources, and their testimony 
is at times sadly corrupt, but it is from them chiefly that informa- 
tion must be sought as to the earlier stages of development of this 
legendary cycle. They do not by themselves give any satisfactory 
explanation of the more mysterious features of the full-blown 
legend, but they do present the facts in such a way as to put out 
of court the hypothesis of a solely Christian legendary origin. 


Before proceeding further it will be well to see if the English Sir 
Perceval has likewise claims to be considered one of the versions 
which yield trustworthy indications as to the older form of the story. 
This poem, described by Halliwell as simply an abridged English 
version of the Conte du Graal, has, as may be seen by reference to 
Ch. IV, been treated with more respect by other investigators, 
several of whom, struck by its archaic look, have pronounced it 
one of the earliest versions of the Perceval sage. It has quite 
lately been the object of elaborate study by Paul Steinbach in his 
dissertation : " Uber dem Einfluss des Crestien de Troies auf die 
altenglische literatur," Leipzig, 1885. The results of his researches 
may be stated somewhat as follows : the two works correspond 
incident for incident down to the death of the Red Knight, the chief 
differences being that Perceval is made a nephew of King Arthur, 
that the death of his father at the hands of the Red Knight is ex- 
plained as an act of revenge on the part of the latter, that Arthur 
recognizes his nephew at once, and tells him concerning the Red 
Knight, and that the burning of the Red Knight, only hinted at 
in Chrestien's lines 

Ains auroie par carbonees. 

Trestout escarbelli6 le mort, etc. (2,328-9). 

is fully told in the English poem. After the Red Knight incident 
the parallelism is much less close. The English poem has incidents 
to. itself : the slaying of the witch, the meeting with the uncle 
and nine cousins, the fight with the giant for the ring, the 
meeting with and restoring to health the mother. Of the remain- 
ing incidents, those connected with Luf amour are more or less 
parallel to what Chrestien relates of his hero's adventure with 
Blanchefleur, and that of the Black Knight, with that of the 
Orgellous de la Lande in Chrestien. Of the 2,288 verses of the 
English poem the greater part may be paralleled from Chrestien, 
thus : 


.. 1,829-1,970 

.. 2,091-2,170 

\ 2,055-90 

-j 2,135-59 

[ 2,171-2,225 

L 2 

P. of GK 


p. of Q. 



433-80 . 


.. 941-1,206 



.. 1,207-82 


.. 1,283-1,554 

601-56 . 


.. 1,555-1,828 


P. of Gk Or. 

657-740. . 

741-820. . 






P. of G-. Cr. 


1,761-1,808 . . . . 4,095-4,150 

1,809-1,951 . . . . 4,865-5,375 

the incidents comprised v. 821-952 and 1,953-2,288, being the only 
one entirely unconnected with Chrestien. This general agreement 
between the two works shows the dependence of the one on the 
other. But while evidently dependent, the English poem, as is 
shown by the differences between it and its French original, belongs 
at once to a less and to a more highly developed stage of the 
Perceval sage. The differences are thus of two kinds, those 
testifying to the writer's adherence to older, probably Breton, 
popular traditions and those due to himself, and testifying to the 
skill with which he has worked up his materials and fitted portions 
of Chrestien's poem into an older framework. Of the first kind 
are : the statement that Perceval meets with three knights instead 
of five as in Chrestien, the English poem agreeing here with the 
Mabinogi ; the mention of his riding on a mare and of his being 
clad in goat-skins, the English poem again agreeing rather with 
the Mabinogi than with Chrestien, and showing likewise points of 
contact with the Breton ballads about Morvan lez Breiz, printed 
by Villemarque in the Barzaz Breiz. The combat with the giant 
may likewise be paralleled from the Lez Breiz cycle in that hero's 
fight with the Moorish giant. These points would seem to 
indicate knowledge on the author's part of popular traditions 
concerning Perceval forming a small cycle, of which the departure 
from, and return to the mother were the opening and closing inci- 
dents respectively. This form of the story must have been widely 
spread and popular to induce the author to leave out as much as he 
has done of Chrestien's poem in order to bring it within the tradi- 
tional framework. He accomplished his task with much skill, 
removing every trace of whatever did not bear directly upon the 
march of the story as he told it. In view of this skill differences 
which tend to make the story more consequent and logical may 
fairly be ascribed to him. Such are : the making Perceval a nephew 
of Arthur, the mention of a feud between the Red Knight and 


Perceval's father, the combat with the witch arising out of Per- 
ceval's wearing the Red Knight's armour, and the other adventures 
which follow eventually from the same cause, the feature that the 
ring taken by Perceval from the lady in the tent is a magic one } 
endowing its wearer with supernatural strength, the change made 
between this ring and his mother's which prepares the final recog- 
nition, etc. The original poem probably ended with the reunion 
of mother and son, the last verse, briefly mentioning the hero's death, 
being a later addition. To sum up, Sir Perceval may be looked 
upon as the work of a folk-singer who fitted into the old Bretoii 
framework a series of adventures taken partly from Chrestien, 
partly from the same Breton traditions which were Chrestien 's main 
source, and with remarkable skill avoided all such incidents as 
would not have accorded with the limits he had imposed upon 

Against this view of Steinbach's it might be urged that a writer 
as skilful as the author of Sir Perceval is assumed to be could 
easily have worked Chrestien's Grail episode into his traditional 
framework. A more plausible explanation, assuming the theory to 
be in the main correct, might be found in the great popularity in this 
country of the Galahad form of the Quest, and the consequent un- 
willingness on the author's part to bring in what may have seemed 
to him like a rival version. Steinbach has not noticed one curious 
bit of testimony to the poem's being an abridgment of an older 
work, more archaic in some respects than Chrestien. When the 
hero has slain the Red Knight he knows not how to rid him of 
his armour, but he bethinks him 

. . . "My moder bad me 
Whenne my dart solde brokene be, 
Owte of the irene brenne the tree, 
Now es me fyre gnede" (749-52). 

Now the mother's counsel, given in verses xxv-vi are solely that 
he should be " of mesure," and be courteous to knights ; nothing is 
said about burning the tree out of the iron, nor does any such 
counsel figure either in Chrestien or in the Mabinogi, which in this 


passage has copied, with misunderstandings, the French poet.* The 
use of Chrestien by the author of Sir Perceval seems, however, nn- 
contestable ; and, such being the case, Steinbach's views meet the 
difficulties of the case fairly well. It will be shown farther on, how- 
ever, that several of the points in which the German critic detects 
a post- Chrestien development, are, on the contrary, remains of as 

* THE COUNSELS. Chrestien (v. 1,725, etc.) : aid dames and damsels, for he 
who honoureth them not, his honour is dead ; serve them likewise ; displease 
them not in aught ; one has much from kissing a maid if she will to lie with 
you, but if she forbid, leave it alone ; if she have ring, or wristband, and for 
love or at your prayer give it, 'tis well you take it. Never have comradeship 
with one for long without seeking his name ; speak ever to worthy men and go 
with them ; ever pray in churches and monasteries (then follows a dissertation 
on churches and places of worship generally). Mabinogi (p. 83) : wherever a 
church, repeat there thy Paternoster ; if thou see meat and drink, and none offer, 
take ; if thou hear an outcry, especially of a woman, go towards it ; if thou see 
a jewel, take and give to another to obtain praise thereby ; pay thy court to a 
fair woman, whether she will or no, thus shalt thou render thyself a better man 
than before. (In the italicised passage the Mabinogi gives the direct opposite of 
Chrestien, whom he has evidently misunderstood.) Sir Perceval (p. 16) : " Luke 
thou be of mesure Bothe in haulle and boure, And fonde to be fre." " There 
thou meteste with a knyghte, Do thi hode off, I highte, and haylse hym in hy " 
(He interprets the counsel to be of measure by only taking half the food and 
drink he finds at the board of the lady of the tent. The kissing of the lady 
of the tent which follows is in no way connected with his mother's counsel.) 
Wolfram : " Follow not untrodden paths ; bear thyself ever becomingly ; deny 
no man thy greeting ; accept the teaching of a greybeard ; if ring and greeting of 
a fair woman are to be won strive thereafter, kiss her and embrace her dear body, 
for that gives luck and courage, if so she be chaste and worthy." Beside the 
mother's counsels Perceval is admonished by Gronemans or the personage corres- 
ponding to him. In Chrestien (2,838, et seq.) he is to deny mercy to no knight 
pleading for it ; to take heed he be not over-talkful ; to aid and counsel dames 
and damsels and all others needing his counsel ; to go often to church ; not to 
quote his mother's advice, rather to refer to him (Gronemans). In the Mabinogi 
he is to leave the habits and discourse of his mother ; if he see aught to cause 
him wonder not to ask its meaning. In Wolfram he is not to have his mother 
always on his lips ; to keep a modest bearing ; to help all in need, but to give 
wisely, not heedlessly ; and in especial not to ask too much ; to deny no man 
asking mercy ; when he has laid by his arms to let no traces thereof be seen, 
but to wash hands and face from stain of rust, thereby shall ladies be pleased ; 
to hold women in love and honour ; never to seek to deceive them (as he might 
do many), for false love is fleeting and men and women are one as are sun and 
daylight. There seems to me an evident progression in the ethical character of 
these counsels. Originally they were doubtless purely practical and somewhat 
primitive of their nature. As it is, Chrestien's words sound very strange to 
modern ears. 

old and popular a form of the story as we can work back to. 
Accepting, then, the hypothesis that Sir Perceval, like the Mabinogi, 
has been influenced by Chrestien, what is the apparent conclusion 
to be drawn from the fact that the former omits the Grail episode 
altogether, whilst the latter joins Chrestien's version to its own, 
presumably older one, so clumsily as to betray the join at once ? 
May it not be urged that Chrestien's account is obviously at 
variance with the older story as he found it ? may not the fact be 
accounted for by the introduction of a strange element into the 
thread of the romance ? This element would, according to Birch- 
Hirschfeld, be the Christian holy-vessel legend, and it would thus 
appear that the Grail is really foreign to the Celtic tradition. Let 
me recapitulate briefly the reasons already urged against such a 
view. The early history of the Grail, that part in which the 
Christian element prevails, must certainly be regarded as later 
than the Quest, to which it could not have given rise without 
assuming such a development of the romance as is well nigh 
incredible the Quest versions, moreover, all hang together in 
certain respects, and point unmistakably to Celtic traditions as 
their source. These traditions must then be examined further to 
see if they contain such traces of the mystic vessel as are wanting 
in the Mabinogi and the English poem, and as may have given rise 
to the episode as found in the French romances. As Perceval is 
the oldest hero of the Quest, and as the boyhood of Perceval, 
forming an integral part of all the oldest Quest versions presents 
the strongest analogies with the folk-tale of the Great Fool, it is 
this tale which must now be examined. 



The Lay of the Great Fool Summary of the Prose Opening The Aryan 
Expulsion and Keturn Formula Comparison with the Mabinogi, 
Sir Perceval, and the Conte du Graal- Originality of the Highland, 
tale Comparison with the Fionn legend Summary of the Lay of the 
Great Fool Comparison with the stag hunt incident in the Conte 
du Graal and the Mabinogi The folk-tale of the twin brethren 
The fight against the witch who brings the dead to life in Gerbert 
and the similar incident in the folk-tale of the Knight of the Ked 
Shield Comparison with the original form of the Mabinogi 
Orginality of Gerbert. 

ONE of the most popular of the poetic narratives in tlie old heroic 
quatrain measure still surviving in the Highlands is the " Lay of 
the Great Fool" (Laoidh an Amadain Mhoir), concerning which, 
according to Campbell, vol. iii., p. 150, the following saying is 
current: "Each poem to the poem of the Red; each lay to the 
Lay of the Great Fool ; each history to the history of Connal " (is 
to be referred as a standard). This Lay, as will be shown pre- 
sently, offers some remarkable similarities with the central Grail 
episode of the quest romances, but before it is investigated a prose 
opening often found with it must be noticed. This prose opening 
may be summarised thus from Campbell, vol. iii., pp. 146, et seq. 

There were once two brothers, the one King over Erin, the 
other a mere knight. The latter had sons, the former none. 
Strife broke out between the two brothers, and the knight and his 
sons were slain. Word was sent to the wife, then pregnant, that 
if she bore a son it must be put to death. It was a lad she had, 
and she sent him into the wilderness in charge of a kitchen wench 
who had a love son. The two boys grew up together, the knight's 
son strong and wilf ul. One day they saw three deer coming to- 
wards them ; the knight's son asked what creatures were these 
creatures on which were meat and clothing 'twas answered it 
were the better he would catch them, and he did so, and his foster- 

)KMULA. 153 

mother made him a dress of the deer's hide. Afterwards he slew 
his foster-brother for laughing at him, caught a wild horse, and 
came to his father's brother's palace. He had never been called 
other than " Great fool," and when asked his name by his cousin, 
playing shinty, answered, " Great Fool." His cousin mocked at 
him, and was forthwith slain. On going into the King's (his 
uncle's) presence, he answered in the same way. His uncle recog- 
nised him, and reproaching himself for his folly in not having slain 
the mother with the father, went with him, as did all the people. 

In my article on the Aryan Expulsion and Return Formula 
among the Celts ("Folk-Lore Record," vol. iv.), I have shown 
that this tale is widely distributed in the Celtic Heldensage as well 
as in the Celtic folk- tale. Before noticing the variants, a word of 
explanation may be necessary. The term, Arische Aussetzungs-und 
Ruckkehr-Formel, was first employed by J. G. v. Hahn in his 
Sagwissenschaftliche Studien (Jena, 1876), to describe a tale 
which figured in the heroic literature of every Aryan race known 
to him. He examined fourteen stories, seven belonging to the 
Hellenic mythology, Perseus, Herakles, Oedipus, Amphion and 
Zethos, Pelias and Neleus, Leukastos and Parrhasius, Theseus ; one 
to Roman mythic history, Romulus and Remus ; two to the Teutonic 
Heldensage, Wittich- Siegfried, Wolfdietrich ; two to Iranian mythic 
history, Cyrus, Key Chosrew ; two to the Hindu mythology, Kama, 
Krishna. I was able to recover from Celtic literature eight well- 
defined variants, belonging to the Fenian and Ultonian cycles of 
Irish Heldensage (heroes,|Fionn and Cu-Chulaind) ; to Irish mythic 
history, Labraidh Maen ; to the folk-tale still living in the High- 
lands, Conall and the Great Fool; to the Kymric Heldensage, 
Peredur-Perceval, Arthur, and Taliesin. An examination of all 
these tales resulted in the establishing of the following standard 
formula, to the entirety of which it will of course be understood 
none of the tales answer : 
I. Hero born 

(a) Out of wedlock. 

(6) Posthumously. 

(c) Supernaturally. 

(d) One of twins, 


II. Mother, princess residing in her own country. 
III. Father 

(a) God 
(6) Hero 

from afar. 

IV. Tokens and warning of hero's future greatness. 
V. He is in consequence driven forth from home. 
VI. Is suckled by wild beasts. 
VII. Is brought up by a (childless couple), or shepherd, or 

VIII. Is of passionate and violent disposition. 

IX. Seeks service in foreign lands. 
IXA. Attacks and slays monsters. 
IXs. Acquires supernatural knowledge through eating a fish, 

or other magic animal. 

X. Returns to his own country, retreats, and again returns. 
XI. Overcomes his enemies, frees his mother, seats himself 
on the throne. 

I must refer to my article for a full discussion of the various 
Celtic forms of this widely- spread tale, and for a tabular comparison 
with the remaining Indo-European forms analysed by J. G. von 
Hahn. Suffice to say here that the fullest Celtic presentment of the 
motif is to be found in the Ossianic Heldensage, the expelled prince 
being no other than Fionn himself. The Celtic form most closely 
related to it is that of the Great Fool summarised above, the relation- 
ship of Peredur- Perceval with which is evident. In both, the father 
being slain, the mother withdraws or sends her son into the 
wilderness ; in both he grows up strong, hardy, ignorant of the 
world. Almost the same instances of his surpassing strength and 
swiftness are given ; in the Mabinogi by celerity and swiftness of 
foot he drives the goats and hinds into the goat-house ; in the 
Highland folk- tale he catches the wild deer, and seeing a horse, 
and learning it is a beast upon which sport is done, stretches out 
after it, catches and mounts it ; in Sir Perceval he sees 

. . . A fulle faire stode 
Otfe coltes and meres gude, 
Bot never one was tame (v. xxi.). 


and " smertly overrynnes " one. The Great Fool then comes to 
his nncle, in whom he finds the man who has killed his father. 
Sir Perceval likewise comes to his uncle, and gets knowledge from 
him of his father's slayer; in Chrestien and the Mabinogi no 
relationship is stated to exist between Arthur and the hero. The 
manner of the coming deserves notice. In the Conte du Graal, 
entering the hall the hero salutes the King twice, receives no 
answer, and, turning round his horse in dudgeon, knocks off the 
King's cap. 

In the English poem 

At his first in comynge, 
His mere withowtenne faylyrige, 
Kiste the forehevede of the Kynge, 
So nerehande he rade (v. xxxi.). 

He then demands knighthood or 

Bot (unless) the Kyng make me knyghte, 
I shall him here slaa (v. xxxiii.). 

In the Great Fool the horse incident is wanting, but the hero's 
address to his uncle is equally curt : " I am the great fool . . . 
and if need were it is that I could make a fool of thee also." 
The incident then follows of the insult offered to Arthur by the 
Red Knight. Here, be it noted, the Mabinogi version is much the 
ruder of the three, " the knight dashed the liquor that was in the 
goblet upon her (Gwenhwyvar's) face, and upon her stomacher, 
and gave her a violent blow in the face, and said," &c. ; in Chrestien 
the incident is not directly presented, but related at second-hand, 
and merely that the discourteous knight took away the goblet so 
suddenly that he spilt somewhat of its contents upon the queen, and 
that she was so filled with grief and anger that well nigh she had 
not escaped alive ; in Sir Perceval the knight takes up the cup 
and carries it off. Now it is a lieu commun of Celtic folk-tales 
that as a King is sitting at meat, an enemy comes in mounted, and 
offers him an insult, the avenging of which forms the staple of the 
tale. A good instance may be found in Campbell's Hi., " The 


Knight of the Red Shield." As the King is with his people and his 
warriors and his nobles and his great gentles, one of them says, 
" who now in the four brown quarters of the Universe would have 
the heart to put an affront on the King ? " then comes the rider on 
a black filly, and, " before there was any more talk between them, 
he put over the fist and he struck the King between the mouth 
and the nose." It is noteworthy that this tale shows further 
likeness to the Mabinogi- Great Fool series, generally, in so far as 
it is the despised youngest who out of the three warriors that 
set off to avenge the insult succeeds, even as it is the despised 
Peredur who slays the Red Knight, and specially in what may be 
called the prophecy incident. With the exception of the opening 
incidents, this is the one by which the " formula " nature of the 
Perceval sage is most clearly shown. In the Mabinogi it is placed 
immediately after the hero's first encounter with the sorceresses of 
Gloucester : " by destiny and foreknowledge knew I that I should 
suffer harm of thee," says the worsted witch. The Conte du Graal 
has only a trace of it in the Fisher King's words as he hands the 
magic sword to Perceval 

. . . Biaus fre"re, ceste esp6e 
Yous fu jugie et destinee (4345-6), 

whilst in Sir Perceval a very archaic turn is given to the incident 
by Arthur's words concerning his unknown nephew 

The bokes say that he mone 
Venge his fader bane (v. xxxvi.). 

This comparison is instructive as showing how impossible it is that 
Chrestien's poem can be the only source of the Mabinogi and 
Sir Perceval. It cannot be maintained that the meagre hint of 
the French poet is the sole origin of the incident as found in the 
Welsh and English versions, whilst a glance at my tabulation of 
the various forms of the Aryan Expulsion and Return formula 
(" Folk-Lore Record," vol. iv.) shows that the foretelling of the 
hero's greatness is an important feature in eight of the Celtic and 
five of the non- Celtic versions, i.e., in more than one-third of all 
the stories built up on the lines of the formula. It is evident that 


here at least Mabinogi and Sir Perceval have preserved a trait 
almost effaced in the romance. In the above-mentioned Highland 
tale the incident is as follows : the hero finds " a treasure of a 
woman sitting on a hill, and a great youth with his head on her 
knee asleep "; he tries to wake the sleeper, even cuts off his finger, 
but in vain, until he learns how it was in the prophecies that none 
should rouse the sleeping youth save the Knight of the Red Shield, 
and he, coming to the island, should do it by striking a crag of 
stone upon his breast. This tale, as already remarked, shows 
affinity to the Perceval saga in two incidents, and is also, as I have 
pointed out (" Folk-Lore Record," vol. v., Mabinogion Studies), 
closely allied to a cycle of German hero and folk-tales, of which 
Siegfried is the hero. Now Siegfried is in German that which Fionn 
is in Celtic folk-lore, the hero whose story is modelled most closely 
upon the lines of the Expulsion and Return formula. We thus 
find not only, as might be expected, affinity between the German 
and Celtic hero-tales which embody the formula, but the derived 
or allied groups of folk-tales present likewise frequent and striking 

Another Highland tale (Campbell, Iviii., The Rider of Grianaig) 
furnishes a fresh example of this fact. Here, also, the deeds to be 
done of the hero were prophesied of him. But these deeds he would 
never accomplish, save he were incited thereto and aided therein by 
a raven, who in the end comes out as a be-spelled youth, and a steed, 
a maiden under spells, and the spells will not go off till her head be 
off. Even so Peredur is urged on and helped by the bewitched youth. 
In other respects, there is no likeness of plan and little of detailf 

* In the notes to my two articles in the " Folk-Lore Kecord" will be found a 
number of references establishing this fact. 

f The hero renews his strength after his various combats by rubbing himself 
with the contents of a vessel of balsam. He has moreover to enter a house the 
door of which closes to of itself (like the Grail Castle Portcullis in Wolfram), 
and which kills him. He is brought to life by the friendly raven. The mysterious 
carlin also appears, " there was a turn of her nails about her elbows, and a twist 
of her hoary hair about her toes, and she was not joyous to look upon." She 
turns the hero's companions into stone, and to unspell them he must seek a bottle 
of living water and rub it upon them, when they will come out alive. This is 
like the final incident in many stories of the Two Brothers class. Cf. note, p. 162. 


to the Mabinogi, certainly no trace of direct influence of the Welsh 
story upon the Highland one. 

It may, however, be asserted that all of these tales are derived 
more or less directly from the French romance. This has been 
confidently stated of the Breton ballad cycle of Morvan le Breiz 
(Barzaz Breiz) and of the Breton Marchen, Peronik 1'idiot 
(Souvestre, Foyer Breton), and I have preferred making no use of 
either. In the matter of the Scotch and Irish tales a stand must 
be made. The romance, it is said, may have filtered down into the 
Celtic population, through the medium of adaptations such as the 
Mabinogi or Sir Perceval. Granted, for argument sake, that these 
two works are mere adaptations, it must yet follow that the stories 
derived from them will be more or less on the same lines as 
themselves. Is this so ? Can it be reasonably argued that the 
folk- tale of the Great Fool is a weakened copy of certain features 
of the Mabinogi, which itself is a weakened copy of certain features 
of the French poem ? Is it not the fact that the folk-tale omits 
much that is in the Mabinogi, and on the other hand preserves 
details which are wanting not alone in the Welsh tale but in 
Chrestien. If other proof of the independent nature of these 
tales were needed it would be supplied by the close similarity 
existing between the Great Pool opening and the Fionn legend. 
This is extant in several forms, one of which, still told in the 
Highlands (Campbell's Ixxxii.), tells how Cumhall's son is reared 
in the wilderness, how he drowns the youth of a neighbouring 
hamlet, how he slays his father's slayer, and wins the magic 
trout the taste of which gives knowledge of past and to come, how 
he gets back his father's sword and regains his father's lands, all 
as had been prophesied of him. Another descendant of the French 
romance it will be said. But a very similar tale is found in a 
fifteenth century Irish MS. (The Boyish Exploits of Finn Mac 
Cum hall, translated by Dr. J. O'Donovan in the Transactions of the 
Ossianic Society, vol. iv.) ; Cumhall, slain by Goll, leaves his wife 
big with a son, who when born is reared by two druidesses. He 
grows up fierce and stalwart, overcomes all his age-mates, overtakes 
wild deer he running, slays a boar, and catches the magic salmon of 


knowledge. An eighteenth century version given by Kennedy 
(" Legendary Fictions," p. 216) makes Cumhall offer violence to 
Mnirrean, daughter of the druid Tadg, and his death to be chiefly 
due to the magic arts of the incensed father. It will hardly be con- 
tended that these stories owe their origin to adaptations of Chrestien's 
poem. But in any case no such contention could apply to the 
oldest presentment of Fionn as a formula hero, that found in the 
great Irish vellum, the Leabhar na h'Uidhre, written down from 
older materials at the beginning of the twelfth century. The 
tract entitled "The cause of the battle of Cnucha" has been 
translated by Mr. Henessey (" Revue Celtique," vol. ii., pp. 86, et seq.*) . 
In it we find Cumhall and Tadhg, the violence done to the latter's 
daughter, the consequent defeat and death of Cumhall, the lonely 
rearing of Fionn by his mother, and the youth's avenging of his 
father. I must refer to my paper in the " Folk-Lore Record " for 
a detailed argument in favour of the L.n.H. account being an 
euhemerised version of the popular tradition, represented by the 
Boyish Exploits, and for a comparison of the Fionn sage as a 
whole with the Greek, Iranian, Latin, and Germanic hero tales, 
which like it are modelled upon the lines of the Expulsion and 
Return formula. I have said enough, I trust, to show that the Fionn 
sage is a variant (a far richer one) of the theme treated in the 
boyhood of Perceval, but that it, and a fortiori the allied folk-tales 
are quite independent of the French poem. It then follows that 
this portion of Chrestien's poem must itself be looked upon as one of 
many treatments of a theme even more popular among the Celts 
than among any other Aryan race, and that its ultimate source is 
a Breton or Welsh folk-tale. 

The genuine and independent nature of the Great Fool prose 
opening being thus established, it is in the highest degree sugges- 
tive to find in the accompanying Lay points of contact with the Grail 
Legend as given in Chrestien. Three versions of this Lay have been 
printed in English, that edited by Mr. John O'Daly (Transactions of 
the Ossianic Society, vol. vi., pp. 161, et seq.) ; Mr. Campbell's (West 
Highland Tales, vol. iii. pp. 154, et seq.) and Mr. Kennedy's prose 
version (Bardic Stories of Ireland, pp. 151, et seq.). O'Daly's, as the 


most complete and coherent, forms the staple of the following 
summary, passages found in it alone being italicised.* 

Summary of the Lay of the Great Fool. (1) There was a great 
fool who subdued the world by strength of body ; (2) He comes to 
the King of Lochlin to win a fair woman, learns she is guarded by seven 
score heroes, overthrows them, and carries her off ; (C. and K. plunging 
at once in medias res, introduce the Great Fool and his lady love out 
walking) (3) The two enter a valley, are meet by a " Gruagach " 
(champion, sorcerer), in his hand a goblet with drink; (4) The 
Great Fool thirsts, and though warned by his lady love drinks deep 
of the proffered cup ; the " Gruagach " departs and the Great Fool 
finds himself minus his two legs ; (5) The two go onward, and 
(" swifter was he at his two knees than six at their swiftness of 
foot ; " C.) A deer nears them followed by a white hound, the Great 
Fool slays the deer and seizes the hound ; (6) whose owner 
coming up claims but finally yields it, and offers the Great Fool 
food and drink during life; (7) The three fare together (the glen 
they had passed through had ever been full of glamour) till they 
come to a fair city filled with the glitter of gold, dwelt in solely by the 
owner of the white hound and his wife, " whiter than very snow 
her form, gentle her eye, and her teeth like a flower"; (8) She 
asks concerning her husband's guests, and, learning the Great Fool's 
prowess, marvels he should have let himself be deprived of his legs ; 

* O'Daly's version consists of 158 quatrains ; Campbell's of 63. The corre- 
spondence between them, generally very close (frequently verbal), is shown by the 
following table : 

O'D., 1, 2. 

C., 1, 2. 

O'D., 68, 69. 

C., 46, 47. 

C., 3. 

O'D., 70. 

C., 49. 

O'D., 3. 


O'D., 71. 

C., 48. 

O.D., 4-15. 

C., 50. 

O'D., 16. 

C., 4. 

O'D., 72. 

C., 52. 

O'D., 17-24. 

C., 5-12. 

O'D., 73. 

O'D., 25. 

O'D., 74. 

C., 53. 

C., 13-15. O'D., 75. 

C., 54. 

O'D., 26-47. 

C., 16-36. O'D., 76-80. 

C., 55-59. 

O'D., 48-56. 

O'D., 81-134. 

O'D., 57-61. 

C., 37-40. O'D., 135, 136. 

C., 60, 61. 

O'D., 62. 

C., 62. 

O'D., 63-65. 

C., 41-43. O'D., 137. 

O'D., 66. 

C., 45. 

O'D., 138. 

C.. 63. 

O'D., 67. 

C., 44. 

O'D. 139-158. 



(9) The host departs, leaving his house, wife, and store of gold in 
the Great Fool's keeping, he is to let no man in, no one out should 
any come in, nor is he to sleep ; (10) Spite his lady love's urgings 
the Great Fool yields to slumber, when in comes a young champion 
and snatches a kiss from the host's wife, (" She was not ill pleased 
that he came," C.); (11) The Great Fool's love awakening him 
reproaches him for having slept he arises to guard the door, in 
vain does the intruder offer gold, three cauldrons full and seven 
hundred townlands, he shall not get out ; (12) At the instigation of 
the host's wife the intruder restores the Great Fool's legs, but not 
then even will the hero let him go pay for the kiss he must when 
the host returns ; threats to deprive him of his legs are in vain, as 
are likewise the entreaties of the host's wife (All this is developed 
with great prolixity in O'Daly, but there is nothing substantial 
added to the account in C.); (13) Finally the intruder discloses 
that he himself is the host, and he was the Gruagach, whose magic cup 
deprived the Great Fool of his legs, and he is, " his own gentle brother 
long in search of him, now that he has found him he is released from 
sorcery" The two kiss (C. and K. end here). (14) The two brothers 
fare forth, encounter a giant with an eye larger than a moon and 
an iron club, wherewith he hits the Great Fool a crack that brings 
him to his knees, but the latter arising closes with the giant, kills 
him and takes his club, the two then attack four other giants, 
three of whom the Great Fool slays with his club, and the fourth 
yields to him. The brothers take possession of the giant's castle 
and all its wealth. 

There are obvious similarities between the Lay and the story 
found in the Mabinogi and the Conte du Graal. A stag hunt is 
prominent in both, and whilst engaged in it the hero falls under 
"illusion," in both too the incident of the seizure of the hound 
appears, though in a different connection. Finally in the Lay, as 
in the Mabinogi, the mover in the enchantment is a kinsman whose 
own release from spells depends upon the hero's coming success- 
fully out of the trials to which he exposes him. But while the 
general idea is the same, the way in which it is worked out is so 
different that it is impossible to conceive of the one story having 
been borrowed from the other. What can safely be claimed is that 



the Great Fool, counterpart of Peredar-Perceval in the adventures 
of his youth and up-bringing, is also, to a certain extent, his 
counterpart in the most prominent of his later adventures, that of 
the stag hunt. It is thus fairly certain that all this part of the 
Conte du Graal is, like the JEnfances, a working up of Celtic folk- 
tales. The giant fight which concludes the Lay may be compared 
with that in Sir Perceval and in Morvan le Breiz, and such a 
comparison makes it extremely likely that the incident thus 
preserved by independent and widely differing offshoots from the 
same folk-tale stem, belongs to the oldest form of the story. 

The analogies of the Lay with the Perceval sage are not yet 
exhausted. Tn virtue of the relationship between the two chief 
characters, the Lay belongs to the "twin-brother cycle." This 
group of folk-tales, some account of which is given below,* is closely 

* Of this widely spread group, Grimm's No. 60, Die zwei Briider, may be 
taken as a type. The brethren eat heart and liver of the gold bird and thereby 
get infinite riches, are schemed against by a goldsmith, who would have kept the 
gold bird for himself, seek their fortunes throughout the world accompanied by 
helping beasts, part at crossways, leaving a life token to tell each one how the 
other fares ; the one delivers a princess from a dragon, is cheated of the fruit of 
the exploit by the Red Knight, whom after a year he confounds, wins the princess, 
and, after a while, hunting a magic hind, falls victim to a witch. His brother, 
learning his fate through the life token, comes to the same town, is taken for the 
young king even by the princess, but keeps faith to his brother by laying a bare 
aword twixt them twain at night. He then delivers from the witch's spells his 
brother, who, learning the error caused by the likeness, and thinking advantage 
had been taken of it, in a fit of passsion slays him, but afterwards, hearing the 
truth, brings him back to life again. Grimm has pointed out in his notes the like- 
ness between this story and that of Siegfried (adventures with Mimir, Fafnir, 
Brunhilde, and Gunnar). In India the tale figures in Somadeva's Katha Sarit 
Sagara (Brockhaus' translation, ii., 142, et seq.}. The one brother is transformed 
into a demon through accidental sprinkling from a body burning on a bier. He 
is in the end released from this condition by his brother's performing certain 
exploits, but there is no similarity of detail. Other variants are Zingerle (p. 131) 
where the incident occurs of the hero's winning the king's favour by making his 
bear dance before him ; this I am inclined to look upon as a weakened recollection 
of the incident of a hero's making a princess laugh, either by playing antics 
himself or making an animal of his play them (see supra, p. 134, Kennedy's Irish 
Tale). G-rimm also quotes Meier 29 and 58, but these are only variants of the 
dragon -killing incident. In the variant of 29, giyen p. 306, the hero makes the 
king laugh, and in both stories occurs the familiar incident of the hero coming 
unknown into a tournament and overcoming all enemies, as in Peredur (Inc. 9). 
Wolf., p. 3G9, is closer, and here the hero is counselled by a. grey mannikin whom 


related on the one hand to the " dragon slayer " group of mdrchen, on 
the other hand to the Expulsion and Return formula tales. In 
many versions of the latter (the most famous being that of 
Romulus and Remus) the hero is one of twins, and, after sharing 
for a while with his brother, strife breaks out between them. In 
the folk- tale this strife leads to final reconciliation, or is indeed a 
means of unravelling the plot. In the hero- tale on the other hand 
the strife mostly ends with the death or defeat of the one brother. 
It would seem that when the folk-tale got associated with a 
definite hero (generally the founder and patron of a race) and 
became in brief a hero-tale, the necessity of exalting the race hero 
brought about a modification of the plot. If this is so the folk-tale 
group of the " two brothers " must be looked upon as older than 
the corresponding portion of the Expulsion and Return hero- tales, 
and not as a mere weakened echo of the latter. To return to the 
twin-brother features. The Peredur-Perceval sage has a twin- 
sister, and is parallel herein to the Fionn sage in one of its forms 

he will unspell if he succeeds. Stier, No. I. (not p. 67, as Grimm erroneously 
indicates) follows almost precisely the same course as Grimm's 60, save that 
there are three brothers. Graal, p. 195, has the magic gold bird opening, but none 
of the subsequent adventures tally. Schott, No. 11, is also cited by Grimm, 
but mistakenly ; it belongs to the faithful-servant group. Very close variants 
come from Sweden (Cavallius-Oberleitner, V, VZ) and Italy (Pentamerone, 
1. 7 and 1. 9). The Swedish tales have the miraculous conception opening, which 
is a prominent feature in tales belonging to the Expulsion and Eeturn group 
(e.g., Perseus, Cu-Chulaind, and Taliesin), but present otherwise very nearly the 
same incidents as Grimm. The second of the Italian versions has the miraculous 
conception opening so characteristic of this group of folk-tales, and of the allied 
formula group, the attainment of riches consequent upon eating the heart of a 
sea dragon, the tournament incident (though without the disguise of the hero) , 
the stag hunt, wherein the stag, an inimical wizard haunting the wood, 
is a cannibal and keeps the cautured hero for eating. In the story of the 
delivery by the second brother, the separating sword incident occurs. The first 
version opens with what is apparently a distorted and weakened form of the hero's 
clearing a haunted house of its diabolical inmates (see infra Ch. VII., Gawain) 
and then follows very closely Grimm's Two Brothers, save that the alluring 
witch is young and fair, the whole tale being made to point the moral, " more 
luck than wit." Straparola, a 3, is a variant of the dragon fight incident 
alone. It, is impossible not to be struck by the fact that in this widely spread 
group of tales are to be found some of the most characteristic incidents of the 
Perceval and allied Great Fool group. The only version, however, which brings 
the two groups into formal contact is O'Daly's form of 1 he Great Fool. 

M 2 


(" How the Een was set up "), though curiously enough not to the 
Great Fool folk-tale (otherwise so similar to " How the Een was 
set up "), which, as in the Lay, has a brother. But beyond this 
formal recognition of the incident in the Perceval sage, I am 
inclined to look upon the Perceval- Gawain dualism as another 
form of it. This dualism has been somewhat obscured by the 
literary form in which the sage has been preserved and the 
tendency to exalt and idealise one hero. In the present case this 
tendency has not developed so far as to seriously diminish the 
importance of Gawain ; his adventures are, however, left in a much 
more primitive and mdrchenhaft shape, and hence, as will be shown 
later on, are extremely valuable in any attempt to reach the early 
form of the story.* 

If Simrock's words quoted on the title page were indeed 
conclusive " If that race among whom the 'Great Fool ' folk-tale 
was found independent of the Grail story had the best claim to be 
regarded as having wrought into one these two elements " then 
my task might be considered at an end. I have shown that this 
race was that of the Celtic dwellers in these islands, among whom 
this tale is found not only in a fuller and more significant form than 
elsewhere, but in a form that connects it with the French Grail 
romance. But the conclusion that the Conte du Graal is in 
the main a working up of Celtic popular traditions, which had 
clustered round a hero, whose fortunes bore, in part, a striking 
resemblance to those of Fionn, the typical representative of the 
Expulsion and Return formula cycle among the Celts, though 
hardly to be gainsaid, does not seem to help much towards settling 
the question of the origin of the Grail itself. The story would 
appear to be Celtic except just the central incident upon which the 
whole turns. For the English Sir Perceval, which undoubtedly 
follows older models, breathes no word of search for any magic 
talisman, let alone the Grail, whilst the Mabinogi, which is also 
older in parts than the Conte du Graal, gives a different turn 

* The brother feature appears likewise in Wolfram von Esehenbach, where 
Parzival's final and hardest struggle is against the unknown brother, as the 
G-reat Fool's is against the Grruagach. This may be added to other indications 
that Wolfram did have some other version before him besides Chrestien's. 


to and assigns a different motif for the hero's conduct. The 
avenging of a kinsman's harm upon certain supernatural beings, 
and the consequent release from enchantment of another kinsman, 
supply the elements of a clear and consistent action to which 
parallels may easily be adduced from folk-tales, but one quite 
distinct from the release of a kinsman through the medium of 
certain talismans and certain magic formulas. Numerous as have 
been the points of contact hitherto established between Celtic folk 
belief and the French romance, the parallel would seem to break 
down at its most essential point, and the contention that the Grail 
is a foreign element in the Celtic legend would still seem to be 
justified. Before, however, this can be asserted, what I have called 
the central episode of the romance requires more searching and 
detailed examination than it has had, and some accessory features, 
which, on the hypothesis of the Christian legendary origin of the 
Grail, remain impenetrable puzzles must be commented upon. 
And another instructive point of contact between romance and folk- 
tale must be previously noticed, connected as it is with stories 
already dealt with in this chapter. 

In the latest portion of the Conte du Graal, the interpolation 
of Gerbert, the following incident occurs : The hero meets four 
knights carrying their wounded father, who turns out to be 
Gonemans, the same who armed him knight. He vows vengeance 
upon Gonemans' enemies, but his efforts are at first of no avail. 
As fast as in the daytime he slays them, at night they are brought 
back to life by "Une vieille" who is thus described: 

La poitrine ot agiie et seche ; 
Ele arsist ausi come une esche 
Si on boutast en li le fu.* 
# # # # 

La bouche avoit grant a merveilles 
Et fendue dusqu'as oreilles, 
Qu'ele avoit longues et tendans ; 
Lons et lez et gausnes les dans 
Avoit. (Potvin vi., 183, 184.) 

* I cannot but think that these words have connection -with the incident in 
the English Sir Perceval of the hero's throwing into the flames and thus 
destroying his witch enemy. 


She carries with her 

II. barisiax d'ivoire gent ; 

containing a "poison," the same whereof Christ made use in the 
Sepulchre, and which serves here to bring the dead back to life 
and to rejoin heads cut off from bodies. She goes to work thus : 

A la teste maintenant prise, 
Si 1'a desor le bu assise ; 

then taking the balm 

Puis en froie celui la bouche 
A cui la teste avoit rajointe ; 
Sor celui n'ot vaine ne jointe 
Qui lues ne fust de vie plain e. 

Perceval stops her when she has brought back three of her men 
to life ; she recognises in him her conqueror : 

Bien vous connois et bien savoie 

Que de nului garde n'avoie 

Fors que de vous ; car, par mon chief 

Nus n'en peust venir a chief 

Se vous non. . . . 

So long as she lives, Perceval shall be powerless to achieve his 
Quest. She wars against Gonemant by order of the King of the 
Waste City, who ever strives against all who uphold the Christian 
faith, and whose chief aim it is to hinder Perceval from attaining 
knowledge of the Grail. Perceval gets possession of somewhat of 
the wonder-working balm, brings to life the most valiant of his 
adversaries, slays him afresh after a hard struggle, in which he 
himself is wounded, heals his own hurt, and likewise Gonemant's, 
with the balsam. Compare now Campbell's above-cited tale, the 
Knight of the Red Shield. The hero, left alone upon the island by 
his two treacherous companions, sees coming towards him " three 
youths, heavily, wearily, tired." They are his foster-brothers, and 
from the end of a day and a year they hold battle against the Son 
of Darkness, Son of Dimness, and a hundred of his people, and 
every one they kill to-day will be alive to-morrow, and spells are 
upon them they may not leave this (island) for ever until they kill 


them. The hero starts out on the morrow alone against these 
enemies, and he did not leave a head on a trunk of theirs, and he 
overcame the Son of Darkness himself. But he is so spoilt and 
torn he cannot leave the battle-field, and he lays himself down 
amongst the dead the length of the day. " There was a great 
strand under him below ; and what should he hear but the sea 
coming as a blazing brand of fire, as a destroying serpent, as a 
bellowing bull ; he looked from him, and what saw he coming on 
the shore of the strand, but a great toothy carlin . . . there 
was the tooth that was longer than a staff in her fist, and the one 
that was shorter than a stocking wire in her lap." She puts her 
finger in the mouth of the dead, and brings them alive. She does 
this to the hero, and he bites off the finger at the joint, and then 
slays her. She is the mother of the Son of Darkness, and she has 
a vessel of balsam wherewith the hero's foster-brothers anoint and 
make him whole, and her death frees them from her spells for 
ever.* This " toothy carlin " is a favourite figure in Celtic tra- 
dition. She re -appears in the ballad of the Muilearteach (probably 
Muir larteach, i.e., Western Sea), Campbell, iii., pp. 122, et seq., and 
is there described as " the bald russet one," " her face blue black, 
of the lustre of coal, her bone tufted tooth like rusted bone, one 
deep pool-like eye in her head, gnarled brushwood on her head 
like the clawed-up wood of the aspen root." In another version of 
the ballad, printed in the Scottish Celtic Review, No. 2, pp. 115, 
et seq., the monster is "bald red, white maned, her face dark grey, 
of the hue of coal, the teeth of her jaw slanting red, one flabby eye 
in her head, her head bristled dark and grey, like scrubwood before 
hoar."t The editor of this version, the Rev. J. G. Campbell, 
interprets the ballad, and correctly, no doubt, "as an inroad of the 

* I must refer to my Mabinogion Studies, I. Branwen for a discussion of 
the relation of this tale with Branwen and with the Teutonic Heldensage. 

t Another parallel is afforded by the tale of Conall Gulban (Campbell, III., 274). 
Conall, stretched wounded on the field, sees " when night grew dark a great Turkish 
carlin, and she had a white glaive of light with which she could see seven miles 
behind her and seven miles before her ; and she had a flask of balsam carrying 
it." The dead men are brought to life by having three drops of balsam put into 
their mouths. The hero wins both flask and glaive. 


Personified Sea." There is no connection, pave in the personage 
of the " toothy carlin," between the ballad and the folk-tale.* 

It is impossible, I think, to compare Gerbert's description of 
the witch with that of the Highland " Carlin " without coming 
to the conclusion that the French poet drew from traditional, 
popular Celtic sources. The wild fantasy of the whole is foreign 
in the extreme to the French temperament, and is essentially 
Celtic in tone. But the incident, as well as one particular 
feature of it, admits of comparison : the three foster-brothers of 
the Highland tale correspond to the four sons of Gonemant, who 
be it recollected, represents in the Conte du Graal, Peredur- 
Perceval's uncle in the Mabinogi; in both, the hero goes forth 
alone to do battle with the mysterious enemy ; the Son of Darkness 
answers to the King of the Waste City; the dead men are brought 
back to life in the same way ; the release of the kinsman, from 
spells, or from danger of death, follows upon the witch's dis- 
comfiture. And yet greater value attaches to the incident as 
connected with the Mabinogi form of the story ; in Gerbert, as 
in the Mabinogi, the hero's uncle is sick to death, his chief enemy 
is a monstrous witch (or witches), who foreknows that she must 
succumb at the hero's hands. t Something has obviously dropped 

* Cf. my Branwen for remarks on the mythological aspect of the ballad. 
It should be noted that most of the ballads traditionally current in the High- 
lands are of semi-literary origin, i.e., would seem to go back to the compositions 
of mediaeval Irish bards, who often sprinkled over the native tradition a 
profusion of classical and historical names. I do not think the foreign influence 
went farther than the " names " of some personages, and such as it is is more at, 
work in the ballads than in the tales. 

f This may seem to conflict with the statement made above (p. 145), that the 
Mabinogi probably took over the maimed unele from Chrestien. But there were 
in all probability several forms of the story ; that hinted at in Chrestien and 
found in Manessier had its probable counterpart in Celtic tradition as well as 
that found in Gerbert. It is hardly possible to determine what was the form 
found in the proto-Mabinogi, the possibility of its having been exactly the same 
us that of Gerbert is in no way affected by the fact that the Mabinogi, as we now 
have it, has in this respect been influenced by Chrestien. Meanwhile Birch- 
Hirschfeld's hypothesis that Gerbert's section of the Conte du Graal is an inter- 
polation between Gautier and Manessier is laid open to grave doubt. It is far 
more likely that Gerbert's work was an independent and original attempt to 
provide an ending for Chrestien's unfinished poem, and that he had before him 
a different version of the original from that used by Gautier and Manessier. 


out from the Mabinogi. May it not be those very magic talis- 
mans, the winning of which is the chief element of the French 
romances, and may not one of the talismans have been the vessel 
of life-restoring balsam which figures in Gerbert and the Highland 
tales ?* The study of subsidiary versions and incidents may thus 
throw upon the connection of the Grail with the Perceval romance 
a light which the main Celtic forms of the latter have not hitherto 

The Thornton MS. Sir Perceval differs in this incident from 
both Manessier and Gerbert. As in Gerbert and the Highland 
Tale the hero meets his uncle and cousins ; there is the same fight 
with the mother of the enemy of his kin, the hideous carlin, but it 
precedes, as does also the slaying of that enemy, the meeting of 
uncle and nephews. There is thus no room for the healing motif 
for which the unconscious avenging of the father's death is 
substituted. These differences bear witness both to the popular 
and shifting nature of the traditions upon which the romances are 
based, and to the fact that the avenging of a blood feud was the 
leading incident of its earliest form. 

* It occurs also in Peredur (Inc. 16), where tlie hero comes to the Castle of 
the Youths, who, fighting every day against the Addanc of the Cave, are each 
day slain, and each day brought to life by being anointed in a vessel of warm 
water and with precious balsam. 



The various forms of the visit to the Grail Castle in the romances Conte 
du Graal : Chrestien ; Gautier-Manessier ; Gautier-Gerbert Didot- 
Perceval Mabinogi Conte du Graal : Gawaiii's visit to the Grail 
Castle Heinrich von dem Tiirlin Conte du Graal : Perceval's visit 
to the Castle of Maidens Inconsistency of these varying accounts ; 
their testimony to stories of different nature and origin being embodied 
in the romances Two main types : feud quest and unspelling quest 
Reasons for the confusion of the two types Evidence of the confu- 
sion in older Celtic literature The Grail in Celtic literature : the gear 
of the Tuatha de Danann ; the cauldron in the Ultonian cycle ; the 
Mabinogi of Branwen ; vessel of balsam and glaive of light in the 
contemporary folk-tale The sword in Celtic literature : Tethra ; 
Fionii ; Maims Parallels to the Bespelled Castle ; the Brug of 
Oengus, the Brug of Lug, the Brug of Manannan Mac Lir, Bran's 
visit to the Island of Women, Cormac Mac Art, and the Fairy Branch ; 
Diarmaid and the Daughter of King Under the Waves Unspelling 
stories : The Three Soldiers; the waiting of Arthur; Arthur in Etna ; 
the Kyffhauser Legend, objections to Martin's views concerning it 
Gawain's visit to the Magic Castle and Celtic parallels ; The Son of 
Bad Counsel ; Fionn in Giant Land ; Fionu in the House of Guana ; 
Fionn and the Yellow Face The Vanishing of the Bespelled Castle 
Comparison with the Sleeping Beauty cycle The "Haunted Castle" 
form and its influence on Heinrich's version The Loathly Grail 

THE analysis of the various versions has shown that the Conte du 
Graal is the oldest portion of the vast body of French romance 
which deals with the Grail, and that it presents the earliest form 
of the story. The examination of the theories put forward to 
explain the genesis and growth of the legend has shown how 
untenable is that hypothesis which makes the Christian legend 
the starting point of the cycle. The comparison of the Conte du 
Graal with Celtic legends and folk- tales has shown that the former 
is in the main a North French retelling of tales current then, as 
now, among the Celtic peoples of Britain, and probably of Brittany. 


One thing alone remains unexplained, the mysterious Grail itself. 
Nor has any light been thrown from Celtic sources upon the inci- 
dent of the hero's visit to the Castle of Talismans, his silence, and 
the ensuing misfortune which overtakes him. Where this incident 
does appear in a Celtic version, the Mabinogi, it is not brought in 
connection with the Grail, and it bears obvious traces of interpo- 
lation. The utmost we have been able to do is to reconstruct from 
scattered indications in different Celtic tales a sequence of incidents 
similar to that of the French romance. Let us, then, return to what 
may be called the central incident of the Grail legend in its older 
and purer form. And let us recall the fact that the hypothesis 
which finds a Christian origin for the whole legend has no 
explanation to offer of this incident. Birch- Hirschf eld can merely 
suggest that Perceval's question upon which all hinges is " eine 
harmlose Erfindung Borron's," a meaningless invention of Bor- 
ron's. It is, indeed, his failure to account for such an essential 
element of the story that forms one of the strongest arguments 
against his hypothesis. 

In the first place it must be noticed that the incident of a hero's 
visit to a magic castle, of his omission whilst there to do certain 
things, and of the loss or suffering thereby caused, occurs not once, 
but many times ; not in one, but in many forms in the vast body of 
Grail romance, as is seen by the following list, which likewise 
comprises all the occasions on which one or other of the questers 
has come near to or succeeded in seeing the Grail : 

(1) CHRESTIEN: (Inc. 7). Perceval's first visit to the Grail 

Castle. Question omitted. 

(2) GAUTIER: (Inc. 22). Perceval's second visit to the Grail 

Castle. Question put 

Incident breaks off in middle, and is continued in one version 


(2A) MANESSIER, who sends off the hero on a fresh quest, 

which is finished in 
(3) MANESSIEE : (Inc. 21). Perceval's third visit to Grail 

Castle. The question is not mentioned. Hero's final 



In another version by : 

(4) GEEBERT: (Inc. 1-3). Perceval is sent forth anew upon 

Quest. He has half put the question and been partially 

(5) GEEBEET: (Inc. 21). Perceval's third visit to Grail Castle. 

Question not mentioned. Hero's success. 

Besides these forms of the episode in the Gonte du Graal of 
which Perceval is the hero, we have 

(6) GAUTIEE: (Inc. 3). Gauvain's first visit according to one, 

second visit according to another version. Question half 
put, partial success. 

And finally a somewhat similar incident of which Perceval is 
the hero in: 

(7) GAUTIEE: (Inc. 12). Visit to the Castle of Maidens. Un- 

timely sleep of hero. 

So far the Conte du Graal. Of the versions closely 
connected with it we have : 

(8 & 9) WOLFEAM VON EscHENBACH : Two visits of Perceval to 
Grail Castle. Question omitted at first, put in second, and 
crowned with success. 

(10 & 11) MABINOGI OP PEEEDUE: (Inc. 6-25). Two visits of 
hero to Grail Castle. Question omitted at first. Second 
visit successful. No mention of question. 

(12 & 13) DIDOT-PEECEVAL : (Inc. 11-16). Two visits of Perceval 
to Grail Castle. Question omitted at first, put at second, 
and crowned with success. 

In a German romance, which presents many analogies 
with that portion of the Conte du Graal which goes 
under Gautier's name : 

(14) HEINEICH VON DEM TUELIN : Gawain's first visit to Grail 

Castle. Question put. Success. Allusion to previous 
unsuccessful visit of Perceval. 

Finally in the QUESTE versions we have four variants of 
the incident 

(15) QUESTE : (Inc. 12). Lancelot at the cross-road, omission to 

ask concerning the Grail. 


(15) QUESTE : (Inc. 15). Perceval heals Mord rains. 

,, (Inc. 43). Lancelot comes to Grail Castle. 

Partial fulfilment of his Quest. 

,, (Inc. 48). The three questers come to the Grail 


On looking at the list we notice that the Conte du Graal knows 
of three visits on the part of the principal hero to the Castle of 
Talismans : 1, 2, 3, or 1, 2-4, 5, and of one visit (or two) of the 
secondary hero ; whilst Wolfram, the Mabinogi, and the Didot- 
Perceval know of two only. Heinrich von dem Tiirlin gives only 
one visit to his chief hero, though he mentions a former one by the 
secondary hero. In Wolfram, and the Didot-Perceval, the incident 
may be compared in the Conte du Graal with 1 and 2 ; in the 
Mabinogi with 1 and 5 ; in Heinrich with 6. The Queste forms of 
the incident are obviously dependent upon those of the Conte du 
Graal, although they have been strongly modified. As for 7, it 
would seem to be a form of the incident which has been entirely 
unaffected by the Christian symbolism which has influenced all the 

It will be advisable to recapitulate the leading features of the 
incident as found in the different versions. Where the summaries 
in Chapter II afford detailed information about it, the recapitulation 
will be brief, but it will be necessary to give at least one version 
at much greater length than heretofore. 

In the Conte du Graal (1) the hero finds a King fishing, who 
directs him to his castle. Just as he deems the fisher has deceived 
him the castle bursts upon his sight. He enters, is led into a 
square room wherein is a bed sitting on which is an old man 
wrapped in sables ; before him is a great fire of dry wood ; 400 men 
might sit in the hall. The King rises to greet him ; as they sit, a 
squire enters with a sword which had but two fellows, sent by the 
King's niece for the hero to whom it was destined. The hall is 
light as it may be. A squire enters holding a lance by the middle ; 
all can behold the drop of blood which flows from the point upon the 
holder's hand. There follow him two squires with candlesticks, each 
with ten candles, in either hand ; a damsel holding a Grail, which 
gives out a light as greater than that of the candles as the sun 


outshines the stars ; and another damsel with a plate of fine gold. 
The procession passes from one into the other room. The hero 
refrains from asking who is served by the Grail. After playing at 
chess with the King they dine, and again the Grail passes, un- 
covered, at each dish. The hero would fain ask what was done 
with it, and is about to do so, but puts off the question. On the 
morrow he sees no one in the castle, the doors of the rooms he had 
been in the eve before are shut, no one answers ; and, mounting his 
horse, which he finds ready saddled, he sets forth over the draw- 
bridge, which closes of itself behind him, without learning why lance 
bleeds or whither the Grail is borne. (2) At the second visit the 
hero comes into a magnificent room, ornamented with fine gold 
and stars of silver, wherein on a vermeil couch the rich King is 
sitting. The hero is fain forthwith to ask about Grail and bleeding 
lance, but must sit him down by the rich King and tell of his 
adventures, about the chapel in which lay the dead Knight, and the 
black hand, the child in the tree and the tree full of candles. The 
King makes him eat before answering his questions. Whilst at 
meat a damsel, fairer than flowers in April, enters with the 
Holy Grail, another with the lance, a squire with the broken sword. 
The hero asks about these talismans. But first the King answers 
the questions about the earlier wonders ; the talismans he will tell of 
after meat. The hero insists to know about the sword. The 
King bids him put it together can he do so he will learn about the 
Knight in the Chapel, and after that about the talismans. Save for 
one flaw the hero succeeds, whereupon the King says he knows no 
one in the world better than he, embraces him, and yields him up 
all in his house. The squire who brought the sword returns, wraps 
it in a cendal, and carries it off. 

2A. The King bids the hero eat. 4. The hero would hold it sin if he did 

Lance and Grail, and a fair silver not ask concerning the Grail. The 

dish pass before them, the latter King first submits him to the 

held by a damsel. The hero sighs sword test.* The existence of the 

and begs to learn about these three. flaw is apparently held to consti- 

He is told about lance, Grail, Grail- tute failure, due to the hero's sin 

* For the second time, if Gerbert's continuation be really intended for our 
present text of Gautier, and if Potvin's summary of Gerbert is to be relied 
upon; Birch -Hir--chf eld seemingly differs from him here, and makes the King at 
< once mention the flaw. 



in quitting his mother so abruptly. 
In the night the hero has a vision, 
which warns him to hasten to hi 
sister's aid. On the morrow the 
Grail Castle has vanished. Mount- 
ing his horse, which stands ready 
saddled, he rides forth. After a 
vain essay to gain entrance to a 
magnificent castle, in which he 
breaks his sword, and thereby 
loads upon himself seven further 
years of adventure, but learns how 
the sword may be made whole 
again, he finds the land which the 
day before was waste fertile and 
peopled. The peasants hail him : 
the townsmen come forth in his 
honour for through him the folk 
have won back lands and riches. 
A damsel tells him how : at the 
Court of the Fisher King he had 
asked about the Grail. At her 
castle he has his sword mended. 
(Later the hero learns that his 
failure to win the Grail comes 
from his not having wedded his 

5. Hero is directed by a cross to the 
Court of the Fisher King. The 
latter makes him sit by his side 
and tell his adventures, when he 
would fain learn [about the Grail. 
The same procession then passes 
as in (2), save that sword instead 
of being broken is simply described 
as not resoldered. The hero says 
he has been twice before with the 
King, and reproaches him for not 
having answered his questions, 
although he had resoldered the 
sword to the King's great joy. 
The King then bids him shake the 
sword, which he does, and the flaw 
disappears. The King is over- 
joyed, and the hero is now worthy 
of knowing everything.f 

In comparing with these versions of the incident that found 
in the Didot-Perceval, we find that the hero at his first visit is 
welcomed by the squires of the castle, clad in a scarlet cloak, 

bearing damsel, dish-bearing dam- 
sel, and in answer to f urther ques- 
tions, learns the history of the 
broken sword, and of the chapel 
haunted by the black hand. After 
sleeping in a splendid bed* he sets 
forth on the morrow on the sword 
quest (the slaying of Partinal). 

3. Having accomplished which, and 
lighted chancewise upon the Grail 
Castle, the King, apprised by a 
squire and forthwith healed, meets 
the hero who shows him head and 
shield. At table lance and Grail 
pass, borne by two maidens ; de- 
lectable meats fill the dishes all 
are filled and satisfied who behold 
the Holy Grail and the lance that 
bleeds. Thereafter enters a squire 
holding a silver dish covered with 
red samite ; the talismans pass 
thrice ; the King thanks the hero 
for having slain his enemy and 
thereby rid him of great torment. 
Asks his name, learns that he is 
his nephew, and offers him his 

* It may be worth notice that v. 35,473 is the same as Chrestien, v. 4,533. 
f It is evident that, although in the MS. in which this version is found it is 
followed by Manessier's section, the poem was intended by Gerbert to end here. 


and placed upon a rich bed, whilst four sergeants apprise Brons 
of his arrival, and the latter is carried into the hall where sits 
the hero, who rises to greet him. Brons questions him before 
they sit down to meat. The mystic procession is formed by squire 
with lance bleeding, damsel with silver dish, squire with the 
vessel holding our Lord's blood. On the morrow the hero sees no 
one, and finds all the doors open. At his second visit there is no 
mention of difficulty in finding the castle. This time the King 
rises to greet him ; they talk of many things and then sit down 
to meat. Grail and worthy relics pass, and the hero asks who 
is served by the vessel which the squire holds in his hands. 
Straightway the King is healed and changed ; overjoyed he first 
asks the hero who he is, and, on learning it, tells him concerning 
lance and Grail, and afterwards, at the bidding of a heavenly 
voice, the secret words which Joseph taught him, Brons. 

In the Mabinogi the castle lies on the other side of a meadow. 
At his first visit the hero finds the gates open, and in the hall 
a hoary-headed man sits, around whom are pages who rise to 
receive the hero. Host and guest discourse and eat, seated 
beside one another. The sword trial follows, and the hero is 
declared to have arrived at two-thirds of his strength. The two 
youths with the dripping spear enter, amid the lamentation of the 
company, are followed by the two maidens with the salver wherein 
is a man's head, and the outcry redoubles. On the morrow the 
hero rides forth unmolested. 

At the second visit the castle is described as being in a valley 
through which runs a river. The grey-headed man found sitting 
in the hall with Gwalchmai is described as lame. 

So far we have recapitulated the leading features of Perceval's 
dealings at the Talismans Castle in the Conte du Graal and in 
the most closely allied versions. But Perceval, the chief hero, has, 
as we have already seen, an under-study in Gauvain. And the 
Gauvain form of the incident deserves as close examination as the 
Perceval form. 

(6) Gauvain has met a knight, stranger to him, with whom 
he travels to Caerleon. Whilst in his company the stranger is slain 
by a dart cast by whom no one knows. Before dying he bids 


buvain take his arms and his horse ; he knows not why he has 
been slain, he never harmed anyone. Gauvain suspects and 
accuses Kex, upon whom he vows to prove the murder, and sets 
forth to learn the unknown's name. After affronting the 
adventure of the black hand* in the chapel and long wanderings, 
he finds himself one evening at the opening of a dark, tree-covered 
road at whose further end he spies a light. Tired and fasting he 
lets his horse go at its will, and is led to a castle where he is 
received with great honour as though he were expected. But 
when he has changed his dress the castle folk see it is not he 
whom they thought. In the hall is a bier whereupon lie cross 
and sword and a dead knight. Canons and priests raise a great 
lamentation over the body. A crowned knight enters and bids 
Gauvain sit by his side. Then the Grail goes through the room, 
serving out meats in plenty, and acting the part of a steward, 
whereat Gauvain is astounded. He next sees a lance which drips 
blood into a silver cup. From out the same jroom whence come 
the talismans, the King issues, a sword in his hand, the sword of 
the dead knight, over whom he laments on his account the land 
languishes. He bids Gauvain essay to make the sword whole, but 
Gauvain cannot, and is told his quest may not be accomplished. 
After his toils and wanderings Gauvain is sleepy, but be struggles 
against sleep, and asks about bleeding lance and sword and bier. 
Whilst the King is answering him he goes to sleep. On awakening 
he is on the sea shore, arms and steed by his side.f He then meets 

* Told at other times, and notably by Gautier himself (Inc. 21), of Perceval, 
where the feature of a dead knight lying on the altar is added. 

t According to the Montpellier MS., which here agrees substantially with 
Potvin's text (the Mons MS.), this is Gauvain' s second visit to the Grail Castle. 
At his first visit he had been subjected to the sword test and had slept. The 
mystic procession is made up as follows : Squire with lance ; maidens with plate ; 
two squires with candlesticks: fair maiden weeping, in her hands a " graal;" four 
squires with the bier, on which lies the knight and the broken sword. G-auvain 
would fain learn about these things, but is bidden first to make the sword whole. 
On his failure he is told 

Yous n'avez par encore tant fet 
D'armes, que vous doiez savoir, etc., 
and then goes to sleep. His awakening finds him in a marsh. 


with the peasantry, and is told of the changed condition of the land 
in a passage already quoted (p. 87). Had he asked about the 
Grail " por coi il servoit," the land had been wholly freed. 

Heinrich von dem Tiirlin's account of Gauvain's visit to the 
Grail Castle differs, as will be seen by the Summary, p. 27, which it 
is unnecessary to repeat, more from that of Gautier than from the 
Perceval visit of the Conte de Graal, with which it has the common 
feature, that the person benefitted by the transaction is the 
Lord of the Magic Castle. As will already have been noticed it 
stands alone in the conception that the inmates of the castle are 
under the enchantment of death-in-life from which the question 
frees them. 

There still remains to be noticed (7) the incident of Perceval's 
visit to the Castle of Maidens, so closely analogous in certain details 
to the Grail Castle visit, and yet wholly disassociated from it in the 
conduct of the story. Perceval, wandering, sees across a river in 
fair meadow land a- rich castle built of marble, yellow and vermeil. 
Crossing a bridge he enters, and the door at once closes behind 
him. No one is in the hall, in the centre of which is a table, and 
hanging to it by a steel chain a hammer. Searching the castle 
he still finds no one, and no one answers to his call. At length he 
strikes upon the table three blows with the hammer. A maiden 
appears, reproaches him, and disappears. Again he waits, and 
again he strikes three blows. A second damsel appears, and tells 
him if he strike afresh the tower will fall, and he be slain in its 
fall. But as he threatens to go on, the damsel offers to open the 
door and let him forth. He declares he will stay till morning, 
whereupon the damsel says she will call her mistress. The hero 
bids her haste as he is not minded to wait long, and warns her 
that he still holds the hammer. Other damsels then show them- 
selves, disarm and tend the hero, and lead him through a 
splendid hall into a still more splendid one, wherein a hundred 
fair and courteous maidens, all of like age and mien, and richly 
dressed, rise at his approach and hail him as lord. The hero 
deems himself in paradise, and " sooth 'tis to be in paradise to be 
with dames and maids; so sweet they are, the devil can make 
naught of them, and 'tis better to follow them than to hearken to 


sermons preached in church for money." The dame of the castle 
bids the hero sit him down by her. " White she is as a lily, rosier 
than on a May morn a fresh blown rose when the dew has washed 
it." She asks him his name, and on hearing how he had wandered 
lonely three days ere meeting with the castle, tells him he might 
have wandered seven ere finding where to partake of bread and 
meat. He is well feasted. In reply to his questions about the 
castle, and how is it no man may be seen in it, he learns he is in the 
Maidens' Castle, all the inmates of one kin and land, of gentle 
birth ; no mason put his hand to the castle, no serf toiled at it. 
Four maids built it, and in this wise : Whatever knight passed, 
and entering, beheld the door closed, and no man meeting him if 
craven he struck no blow with the hammer, and on the morrow he 
went forth unheeded; but if wise and courteous he struck the 
table, and was richly entertained. As the lady tells this tale the 
hero, overcome with much journeying, falls asleep and is laid to 
bed by the maidens. On the morrow he wakes beneath a leafy oak, 
and never a house in sight. 

It is surely superfluous to point out that the foregoing recapi- 
tulation of the various forms under which this incident has come 
down to us gives the last blow to the theory which makes Christian 
symbolism the starting point, and the Didot-Perceval the purest 
representative of the legend. We should have to admit not only that 
the later romance writers entirely misunderstood the sense of their 
model, but that, whilst anxiously casting about in every direction 
for details with which to overlay it, they neglected one of its most 
fertile hints that of the secret words handed down through Joseph 
from Christ Himself to the successful Grail quester. What a mine 
of adventures would not Gautier, Gerbert, and all the other unknown 
versifiers, who added each his quota to the Conte, have found in 
those " secret words ? " Nay, more, we must admit that so much in 
love were they with this incident they misunderstood, that they 
repeated it in half-a-dozen varying forms, and finally eliminated 
from it every trace of its original element. There are theories 
which ask too much and which must be set on one side, even if 
one has nothing equally ingenious and symmetrical to set in their 



Three things strike one in considering this incident apart from 
the other adventures with which it is associated; the want of 
consistency in those versions which, formally, are closely related, 
an inconsistency which we have already noted in dealing with the 
legend as a whole ; the repetition of the same incident with almost 
similar details, but with a different animating conception ; and the 
fact that some of the secondary forms testify to that same thread of 
story which we have already extracted from the comparison of the 
Mabinogi and the Conte du Graal in their entirety. Not only is 
the conception of the Quest different in Chrestien and Manessier or 
Chrestien-Gerbert, but the details are different, the centre of in- 
terest being shifted from the omitted question to the broken sword. 
In Manessier the denoument is brought about without any reference 
to the question, in Gerbert the reference is of the most perfunctory 
kind. Again we find the same machinery of Grail, lance, and other 
talismans, which in Chrestien-Manessier serves to bring about the 
hero's vengeance on his uncle's murderer, in Chrestien-Gerbert 
the re-union of the lovers and the winning of the Grail Kingship, 
used in the Gawain quest with the evident object of compass- 
ing vengeance upon the slayer of the unknown knight. And, 
thirdly, this secondary form is in close agreement with the 
Mabinogi here, as there, the sword test takes place at the Fisher 
King's; here, as there, it immediately precedes the passing of 
the talismans ; here, as there, it is only partially successful ; here, 
as there, is a tangible reminder of the object of the quest, in 
the dead body of the unknown knight in the one case, in the 
head swimming in blood in the other. And here we may note that 
of the two forms in which the Queste reproduces this incident, 
the one which holds the more prominent position in the narrative, 
the one of which Lancelot is the hero, closely resembles that 
secondary form in the Conte du Graal which is connected with 
Gawain. The wounded knight whom Lancelot beholds at the 
cross ways borne into the chapel upon a bier, and clamouring for 
the succour of the Grail, recalls forcibly the dead knight of the 
Gawain quest. It is, perhaps, still more significant that when 
the Queste does reproduce the Perceval form, it is only in its 
externals, and the mystic vessel, which in the older version is 


obviously a means of achieving the quest, has, in the later one, 
become the end of that quest. 

It seems impossible to resist the following conclusions : The 
many forms of the incident found in the Grail romances are not 
variants of one, and that an orderly and logical original ; they 
testify to the fact that in the body of popular tradition which 
forms the basis of these romances the incident of the visit to a 
magic castle was a common one, that it entered into the thread of 
stories, somewhat similar in outline and frequently centered in the 
same hero, but differing essentially in conception, and that the 
forms in the romances which are most likely to keep close to the 
traditional model are those secondary ones with which the innovat- 
ing spirit, whether due to the genius of the individual artist, or to 
intruding Christian symbolism, has least concerned itself. There 
is apparently but one case in the Conte du Graal, that of Perceval's 
visit to the Castle of Maidens, which has been modified by neither 
of these influences. 

To accept these conclusions is to clear the ground. If we rid our 
minds of the idea that there is a Grail legend, a definite fixed sequence 
of incidents, we need not be discouraged if we fail to find a proto- 
type for it in Celtic tradition or elsewhere. We shall be prepared 
to examine every incident of which the Grail is a feature upon its 
own merits, and satisfied if we can find analogies to this or that one. 
And by so doing we are more likely to discover the how and why 
of the development of the legends as we find them in the 

Leaving subsidiary details out of account, we may bring all the 
instances in which the Grail appears under two formulas : that of 
the kinsman avenging a blood feud by the means of the three 
magic talismans, sword and lance and vessel ; and that of the 
visit to the Bespelled Castle, the inmates of which enjoy, thanks to 
the magic vessel, a supernaturally prolonged life, from which they 
are released by the hero's question concerning that vessel. The 
one we may call the feu.3 quest, the other the unspelling quest. 
The Proto-Mabinogi belonged, as wehave already seen (swpra,p. 139), 
to the first class, and accordingly we find that all relating to the 
question is obviously interpolated from Chrestien. Chrestien's model 


belonged, in all probability if not wholly, chiefly to the first class, 
and accordingly we find that Manessier, certainly more faithful 
than Chrestien to that original, lays no stress upon the question. 
But in Chrestien himself there is a mixture of the two formulas ; 
the question and the food-producing qualities of the magic vessel 
have been incorporated in the feud formula. Once started upon 
this track the legend continues to mingle the formulas. The mystic 
procession, which probably owes its form to Chrestien, is repeated 
with monotonous sameness by his continuators ; the machinery of 
the feud quest almost invariably doubles that of the visit to the 
Bespelled Castle, and vice versa. Thus Heinrich von dem Tiirlin, 
along with the most archaic presentment of the unspelling quest, 
has that procession of the talismans which properly belongs to 
the feud quest ; and, to complete his conception, we must turn to 
incidents at present set in the framework of the other formula. For 
the effect upon the land produced by the hero's action at the Castle of 
Talismans is obviously analagous to, though of directly contrary 
nature to, that produced upon the inmates of the Bespelled Castle. 
They are dead though they seem quick, the land is full of life 
though it seems waste. The question which frees the one from the 
spell of lif e-in-death, frees the other from the spell of death-in-life.* 
The Didot- Perceval has the complete conception. Perceval's question 
not only releases Brons, who may not die until then, but it also 
ends the enchantment of Britain. 

The identity of hero in stories originally dissimilar was one reason 
for the confusion between the two formulas ; the nature of the 
Grail was another. Its attributes were in all probability not very 
clearly defined in the immediate models of the French romance 
writers; these found it enveloped in mysterious haze, which simple 
story-tellers, such as Gautier, did not try to clear up, and which 

* It may be conjectured that the magic vessel which preserves to this 
enchanted folk the semblance of life passes into the hero's possession when he 
asks about it, and that deprived of it their existence comes to an end, as would 
that of the Anses without the Apples of Iduna. I put this into a note, as I have 
no evidence in support of the theory. But read in the light of this conjecture 
some hitherto unnoticed legend may supply the necessary link of testimony. 


gave free play to the mystic imaginings of those writers who used 
romance as a vehicle for edification. The one tangible thing about 
it in stories of the one class, its food producing-power, has left its 
trace upon every one of the romances. But we shall also find in 
our survey of Celtic literature that this attribute, as well as that 
of healing or restoring to life, is found indifferently in stories of both 
the classes, to the fusion of which we refer the Grail legends in their 
present form. Another link between the two formulas is formed by 
the sword. It is almost invariably found associated with the heal- 
ing vessel of balsam in task stories connected with the feud quest 
of the Mabinogi and the Conte du Graal ; it is also a frequent feature 
in the legend of the unsuccessful visit to the Bespelled Castle.* 
Finally, the most important reason for running into one the stories 
derived from these two formulas, and the one which could hardly 
fail to lead to the fusion, is to be found in the identity of the myth 
which underlies both conceptions. The castle to which the avenger 
must penetrate to win the talismans, and that to which the hero 
comes with the intent of freeing its lord, are both symbols of the 
other world. 

Bearing in mind this double origin of the Grail, and reviewing 
once more the entire cycle, we note that, whilst it is that present- 
ment of the magic vessel due to the second formula which is most 
prominent in the romances, the feud quest has furnished more and 
more varied sequences of incident, and is the staple of the oldest 
literary Celtic form (the Proto-Mabinogi) and of those North 
French forms which are most closely akin to it. Here the magic 
vessel is at best one of three equally potent treasures ; as a matter 
of fact its role in this section of the romances is, as we have seen, 

* Nearly all the objections to the view suggested in the text may be put 
aside as due to insufficient recognition of the extent to which the two formulas 
have been mingled, but there is one which seems to me of real moment. The 
wasting of the land which I have looked upon as belonging to the unspelling 
formula, is traced by the Queste to the blow struck by King Lambar against 
Bang Urlain, a story which, as we have seen, is very similar to that which forms 
the groundwork of one at least of the models followed by the Conte du Graal in 
its version of the feud quest. It does not seem likely that the Queste story is a 
mere echo of that found in the Conte du Graal, nor that the fusion existed so far 
back as in a model common to both. But the second alternative is possible. 


inferior to that of the sword. Obviously intended to be the imme- 
diate cause of restoration to life or health of the hero's kinsman, 
its functions have been minimised until they have been forgotten. 
If this is so already in the Proto-Mabinogi and in the model of 
the Conte du Graal, we may expect to find that elsewhere in Celtic 
tradition the magic vessel is of less account than sword or lance. 

We should likewise misconceive the character of popular tradition 
if we expected to find certain attributes rigidly ascribed to the 
mystic vessel in this or that set of stories. The confusion we have 
noted in the romances may be itself derived from older traditions. 
Certain it is that in what may be looked upon as the oldest account 
of the vessel* in Celtic literature (although the form in which it has 
reached us is comparatively modern), there is a vessel of abundance 
associated with three other talismans, two of them being sword and 
lance. The Tuatha de Danann (the race of fairies and wizards 
which plays a part in Irish tradition analogous to that of Gwydion ap 
"Don, Gwynn ap Nudd, and their kin in Welsh) so runs the tradi- 
tion preserved by Keating in his History of Ireland (Book I, ed. by 
Joyce, Dublin, 1880, p. 117), had four treasures : The Lia Fail, 
the stone of Fate or Virtue (" now in the throne upon which is 
proclaimed the King of the Saxons," i.e., the stone brought by 
Edward I., from Scone) ; the sword that Lugf Lamhfhada (Lug 
the Longhanded) was wont to use ; the spear the same Lug used 
in battle ; the cauldron of the Dagda, " a company used not ever go 
away from it unsatisfied " Keating followed old and good sources, 
and although the passage I have underlined is not to be found in 
all MSS. of his work (e.g., it is missing in that translated by 
Halliday), and although the verse which he quotes, and which pro- 
bably goes back to the eleventh century, whilst the traditions which 

* I do not follow M, Hucher upon the (as it seems to me) very insecure 
ground of Gaulish numismatic art. The object which lie finds figured in pre- 
Christian coins may be a cauldron and it may not and even if it is a cauldron 
it may have no such significance as he ascribes to it. 

f Cf. as to Lug D'Arbois do Jubainville, Cycle Mythologique Irlandais; 
Paris, 1884, p. 178. He was revered by all Celtic races, and has left his trace in 
the name of several towns, chief among them Lug-dunum = Lyons. In so far as 
the Celts had departmental gods, he was the god of handicraft and trade ; but 
cf. as to this Rhys, Hibb. Lect., p. 427-28. 


it embodies may be regarded as a couple of centuries older, does 
not mention this property of the Dagda's* Cauldron, it may, I think, 
be assumed that the tradition here noticed is genuine, and that a 
vessel akin to the Grail, as well as talismans akin to those that 
accompany the Grail, formed part of the gear of the oldest Celtic 
divinities, f 

This conclusion appears no rash one when we consider the 
further references to the cauldron in Middle Irish Literature. 
The Battle of Magh Rath, a semi-historical romance relating to 
events which took place in the seventh century, is ascribed by its 
editor, Dr. J. O'Donovan, to the latter half of the twelfth century. 
It relates (pp. 51, et seq.) how the sons of the King of Alba sought to 
obtain from their father the "Caire Ainsicen" so called, because "it 
was the caire or cauldron which was used to return his own proper 
share to each, and no party ever went away from it unsatisfied, for 
whatever quantity was put into it there was never boiled of it but 
what was sufficient for the company according to their grade or 
rank." The mediaeval story-teller then goes on to instance similar 
cauldrons to be met with in the older history of Ireland. These 
may nearly all be referred to the oldest heroic Irish cycle, the 
Ultonian, of which Cuchulainn is the most prominent figure. This 
cycle, in its origin almost if not wholly mythic, was at an early 
date (probably as early as the eighth century) euhemerised, and its 
gods and demi-gods made to do duty as historical personages living 
at the beginning of the Christian era. It is, indeed, not improbable 
that actual historical events and personages of that period may 
have coloured and distorted the presentment of the myth ; and it is 
highly probable that the substance of these stories does go back to 
that age, as they are almost entirely free from any admixture of 

* Cf. D'Arbois de Jubainyille, op. tit., p. 269-290. The Dagda the good 
god seems to have been head of the Irish Olympus. A legend anterior to the 
eleventh century, and belonging probably to the oldest stratum of Celtic myth, 
ascribes to him power over the earth : without his aid the sons of Miledh could 
get neither corn nor milk. It is, therefore, no wonder to find him possessor of 
the magic cauldron, which may be looked upon as a symbol of fertility, and, as 
such, akin to similar symbols in the mythology of nearly every people. 

t Cf. as to the mythic character of the Tuatha de Danann, D'Arbois de 
Jubaiuville, op. cit., and my review of his work, Folk-Lore Journal, June, 1884. 


Christian elements, and such admixture as there is can be readily 
detected as the handiwork of the tenth and eleventh century monks 
by whom these tales were written in MSS. which have for the 
most part come down to us. The cauldron is found with the 
same properties as those set forth in the Battle of Magh Rath, in 
two of the most celebrated tales of this cycle, the Toghail Bruighne 
da Derga, and the Tale of Mac Datho's pig. 

Turning from Irish to Welsh literature we may note that the 
Grail has frequently been compared with the cauldron of Bran in 
the Mabinogi of Bran wen, the daughter of Llyr. I have dealt with 
this tale fully (Folk-Lore Record, Vol. V.), and see no reason to 
depart from the conclusion I then arrived at ; namely, that it goes 
back in the main to the eleventh or tenth century. Here, the 
revivifying power of the vessel is dwelt upon, " The property of it 
is that if one of thy men be slain to-day, and be cast therein, the 
morrow he will be as well as ever he was at his best, except that 
he will not regain his speech." We cannot fail to recall that in the 
Queste which, as far as the Grail itself is concerned, must be 
referred on the whole to the feud quest formula, when the sacred 
vessel appears the assembled company is struck dumb.* 

Later Celtic folk-literature has followed the Mabinogi rather 
than the older Irish legend in its account of the mystic vessel. 
Where it appears in the folk-tale its function is to heal or to bring- 
back to life. We may leave out of account for the present the refe- 
rences in the Welsh "bardic" literature to the cauldron of Ceridweii, 
chief among which is that in the Mabinogi of Taliesin. I am far 
from thinking that this literature deserves the wholesale condem- 
nation that has been passed upon it, but it has been too little and 
too uncritically studied to afford, as yet, a firm basis for investigation. 
We are on surer ground in dealing with the living folk-tale. Thus 
the tale of Fionn's Enchantment, although belonging more properly 

* I at one time thought that the prohibition to reveal the "secret words," 
which is such an important element in Eobert de Borron's version, might be 
referred to the same myth-root as the instances in the text. There is little or 
no evidence to sustain such a hazardous hypothesis. Nevertheless it is worth 
while drawing attention in this place to that prohibition, for which I can offer no 
adequate explanation. 


to the other formula, may be noticed here as containing a cup of 
balsam, the washings of which restore the 'maimed Fionn to 
complete health. Mr. Campbell, who has noted the tale, remarks 
that the cup of common in all the Fenian stories, which 
is what we should naturally expect, seeing the close connection 
between Fionn and Peredur (Rev. Celt. I., p. 194). Other 
instances have already been given in Chapter VI. of the appearance 
of the vessel of balsam in connection with the glaive of light, 
and of its use in bringing back to life the hero's enemies. And here 
it may be noted that almost the very mode in which it is introduced 
in the folk- tales may be paralleled from the romances. The Grail 
appears to Perceval and Hector, lying well nigh dead upon the field 
of battle, and makes them whole, even as the vessel of balsam re- 
vivifies the dead warriors whom Conall Gulban has just slain, and 
heals the latter. It is, perhaps, only a coincidence that the angel 
in the one, the Carlin in the other case, appear in a great flashing 
of light. But, as a rule, in those task-stories which otherwise 
present such close similarities to the feud quest of the Proto-Ma- 
binogi and the Conte du Graal, the mystic vessel has dropped out 
altogether, and the sword is the chief if not the only talisman. 
This is the case in Campbell, 1., the young King of Easaidh 
Ruadh, and in XLVI. Mac Iain Direach. In one instance the 
glaive of light is met with outside the task group, in Campbell 
XLL, the Widow and her Daughters, variant ii (a Bluebeard 
story), and here it is found associated with the vessel of balsam. 
In the folk-tales, then, as in one section of the Conte du Graal, the 
healing vessel is decidedly of less account than the avenging or 
destroying weapon. This, as the sword, plays such an important 
part in the French romances that an examination of its role in 
Celtic literature will repay examination. 

Besides the already quoted instances in which the sword of light 
accompanies the vessel of balsam as one of the treasures which 
reward the hero's quest, but in which it does not otherwise affect 
the march of the story, we find others in which the sword is either 
that weapon which causes the woe, the subject of the story, or else 
is the one means of testing the hero's fitness for his quest. In 
either case it is parallel to the sword of the Grail romances. Apart 


from these special instances there are general references in the 
oldest Irish literature to the quasi-supernatural nature attributed 
to the sword. Thus the Lea.bhar Gabhala, or Book of Invasions, 
the tenth and eleventh century tract in which Irish mythology was 
euphemerised into an historical relation of the pre-Christian invasion 
of Ireland, has a passage relating to the sword of Tethra, King 
of the Fomori,* which spake, and, adds the Christian scribe, the 
ancient Irish adored s words, t This is borne out by a passage in the 
Seirglige Conculainn, a story belonging to the Ultonian cycle,,which 
Mr. Whitley Stokes has translated (Rev. Celt. I., 260). The men 
of Ulster, when showing their trophies, had their swords upon their 
thighs, " for their swords used to turn against them where they 
made a false trophy." 

The Christian transcriber notes that it was reasonable for the 
pagan Irish to trust their swords " because demons used to speak 
from out them." To return to the sword of Tethra. The most 
famous battle of Irish mystic history is that of Mag-Tured, in 
which the Tuatha de Danann, the gods of light and life, overcome 
their enemies the Fomori. Ogma, the champion of the Tuatha de 
Dananu, wins the sword of Tethra, and as he cleans it it tells him 
the many and great feats it had wrought. 

It is, however, in the second of the great heroic cycles of the 
ancient Irish, the Fenian or Ossianic, that we find the sword put 
to a use which strongly recalls that of the romances. Not until the 
hero is able to wield the weapon so that it break not in his hand, 
or to weld it together so that no flaw appears, J is he fit to set 

^* Powers of darkness and death. Tethra their king reigns in an island home. 
It is from thence that the maiden comes to lure away Oonnla of the Golden 
Hair, as is told in the Leabhar na-h-Uidhre, even as the Grail messenger comes 
to seek Perceval " 'tis a land in which is neither death nor old age a plain of 
never ending pleasure," the counterpart, in fact, of that Avalon to which Arthur 
is carried off across the lake by the fay maiden, that Avalon which, as we see in 
Robert de Borron, was the earliest home of the Grail-host 

f Cf. D'Arbois de Jubainville, op. cit. p. 188. 

J When Cuchulainn was opposing the warriors of Ireland in their invasion of 
Ulster one of his feats is to make smooth chariot-poles out of rough branches of 
trees by passing them through his clenched hand, so that however bent and 
knotted they were they came from his hands even, straight, and smooth. Tain bo 
Ctialffne, quoted by Windisch, Kev. Celt., Vol. V. 


forth on the quest. In Campbell's LXXVIL, " How the Een was 
set up," Fionn applies for his sword to Ullamh Lamhfhada* 
(Ullamh the Longhanded), who gives him the most likely sword 
and the best he found. The hero takes it, shakes it, casts it out 
of the wooden handle and discards it. Thrice is this repeated, and 
when the right weapon is in Fionn's hand, he quells utterly all he 
sees.f Now how had Fionn obtained this sword originally ? By 
slaying black Arcan, his father's slayer. It may, I think, be looked 
upon as certain that in an earlier form of the story, the weapon in 
question would turn out to be the one with which the treacherous 
deed was done, and Fionn, a counterpart of Peredur in his bringing 
up, would also be his counterpart in this incident^ For the sword 
with which Partinal slew Goon Desert is treasured up for the use 
of Perceval, but only after a repeated essay is he held worthy of 

The sword incident reappears in a tale of Campbell's, Manus 
(Vol. III.), which presents some very remarkable analogies with the 
romances. Manus is driven into various adventures by his aunt ; 

* This epithet recalls Lug, of whom it is the stock designation. Now Lug was 
par excellence the craftsman's god ; he, too, at the battle of Mag Tnred acted 
as a sort of armourer-general to the Tuatha de Danann. A dim reminiscence 
of this may be traced in the words which the folk-tale applies to Ullamh l.f ., " he 
was the one special man for taking their arms." 

f Cf. my Aryan Expulsion and Eeturn formula, pp. 8, 13, for variants of 
these incidents in other stories belonging to this cycle and in the allied folk-tales. 

J This incident is only found in the living Fionn-*ogr*, being absent from 
all the older versions, and yet, as the comparison with the allied Perceval sage 
shows, it is an original and essential feature. How do the advocates of the 
theory that the Ossianic cycle is a recent mass of legend, growing out of the lives 
and circumstances of historical men, account for this development along the 
lines of a formula with which, ex hypothesi, the legend has nothing to do ? 
Trie ~Fiorm-sage, it is said, has been doctored in imitation of the Cuchulainn-.sag'e, 
but the assertion (which though boldly made has next to no real foundation) 
cannot be made in the case of the Conte du G-raal. Mediaeval Irish bards and 
unlettered Highland peasants did not conspire together to make Fionn's 
adventures agree with those of Perceval. 

In the Gawain form of the feud quest found in Gautier, the knight whose 
death he sets forth to avenge is slain by the cast of a dart. Can this be brought 
into connection with the fact that Perceval slays with a cast of his dart the Ked 
Knight, who, according to the Thornton romance, is his father's slayer. 


an armourer of his grandfather offers to get him a sword ; but all 
given to him he breaks save the armourer's old sword, and it beat 
him to break that. The armourer then gives him a cloth, " When 
thou spreadestit to seek food or drink, thou wilt get as thou usest." 
Subsequently, helped by a lion, he achieves many feats. He comes 
to the help of the White Gruagach by fetching the blood of a vene- 
mous horned creature belonging to the King over the Great World, 
by which alone the White Gruagach could be restored to life when 
the magic trout with which his life was bound up had been 
slain. Afterwards he accompanies him against his enemy the Red 
Gruagach, who is slain, and his head stuck on a stake. This Red 
Gruagach is apparently the father of the aunt who so persecutes 

This examination of the sword incident shows that the Mabi- 
nogi has preserved the original form of the story, and links afresh 
this portion of the Conte du Graal with the other Celtic stories 
belonging to the Expulsion and Return formula group, with which 
it has so much else in common. In all the formula-stories, except 
those of the Conte du Graal and the Proto-Mabinogi, the hero has 
to avenge his father, not his uncle; and it is highly suggestive that 
at least one version of the Perceval cycle (the Thornton romance) 
follows suit. With this remark we may take leave of the feud quest. 

Many and interesting as have been the parallels from the older 
Celtic literature to the feud quest, they are far outweighed by those 
which that literature affords to the second formula the visit to the 
Bespelled Castle which we have noted in the romances. 

. From the recapitulation (supra, pp. 173, et. seq.) we may learn 
several things. The castle lies, as a rule, on the other side of a river ; 
the visitor to it is under a definite obligation ; he must either do a 

* This prose tale precedes an oral version of one of the commonest Fenian 
poems, which in its present shape obviously goes back to the days when the Irish 
were fighting against Norse invaders. The poem, which still lives in Ireland 
as well as in the Highlands, belongs to that later stage of development of the 
Fenian cyjle, in which Fionn and his men are depicted as warring against the 
Norsemen. It is totally dissimilar from the prose story summarised above, and 
I am inclined to look upon the prose as belonging to a far earlier stage in the 
growth of the cycle, a stage in which the heroes were purely mythical and their 
exploits those of mythical heroes generally. 


certain thing, as, e.g., in Perceval's visit to the Castle of Maidens, 
strike on the table three blows with the hammer, or he must put a 
certain question, or again he must abstain from certain acts, as that 
of falling asleep (Perceval and Gawain) or drinking* (Gawain, in 
Heinrich von dem Tiirlin). Disregard of the obligation is punished 
in various ways. In the case of the Castle of Maidens the craven 
visitor is allowed to fare forth unheeded without beholding the 
marvels of the castle; but, as a rule, the hero of the adventure finds 
himself on the morrow far away from the castle, which has vanished 
completely. The inmates of this castle fall into two classes they 
are supernatural beings like the maidens, who have apparently no 
object to gain from their mortal visitor, but who love heroism for 
its own sake, and are as kindly disposed towards the mortal hero 
in the folk-lore and mythology of the Celts as gods, and especially 
goddesses, are in the mythic lore of all other races ; or they sufi'er 
from an over-lengthened life, from which the hero alone can release 
them. This latter feature, seen to perfection only in Heinrich von 
dem Tiirlin, is apparent in the Didot-Perceval, and has, in the 
Conte du Graal, supplied the figure of the old man, father to the 
Fisher King, nourished by the Grail. 

These features sufficiently indicate that the Magic Castle is the 
realm of the other world. The dividing water is that across which 
lies Tir-na n-Og, the Irish Avalon, or that Engellahd dwelt in 
by the shades which the inhabitants of the Belgian coast figured 
in the west.f In Celtic lore the earliest trace of this realm is found, 
as is the earliest trace of Grail and sword, in connection with the 
Tuatha de Danann, that race of dispossessed immortals which lives on 
in the hollow hill sides, and is ever ready to aid and cherish the Irish 
mythic heroes. The most famous embodiment of this conception 
in Irish myth is the Brug na Boine, ihe dwelling place of Oengus,^ 

* The prohibition seerns to be an echo of the widely-spread one which 
forbids the yisitor to the otherworld tasting the food of the dead, which, if he 
break, he is forfeit to the shades. The most famous instance of this myth is that 
of Persephone. 
f Cf. Procopius quoted by Elton, Origins of English History, p. 84. 

J Prof. Rhys, Hibbert Lectures for 1886, looks upon him as a Celtic Zeus. 
He dispossessed his father of the Brug by fraud, as Zeus dispossessed Kronoa 
by force. 


son of the Dagda, and the earliest account of it is that contained 
in the Book of Leinster, the second of the two great Irish vellums 
written down in the twelfth century. It is a land of Cockayne ; 
in it are fruit trees ever loaded with fruit, on the board a pig ready 
roasted which may not be eaten up, vessels of beer which may not 
be emptied, and therein no man dies.* But Oengus is not the only 
one of the Tuatha de Danann who has such a fairy palace. The 
dwelling place of Lug is of the same kind, and in the story of the 
Conception of Cuchulainn,f which tells how the god carried off 
Dechtire, sister of Conchobor, and re-incarnated himself in her as 
the great Ulster hero, we learn that when Conchobor and his men 
go in search of Dechtire and her fifty maidens, they first come to a 
small house wherein are a man and woman ; the house suddenly 
becomes a splendid mansion, therein are the vanished maidens in 
the shape of birds (and all sorts of goods, and dishes of divers 
sorts, known and unknown ; never did they have a better night, 
in the morning they found themselves houseless, birdless in the 
east of the land, and they went back to Emain Macha) . Although 
no prohibition is mentioned the similarity in parts of this story, 
which, it must be repeated, is older than the introduction of 
Christianity in Ireland, to the romances is evident. Another 
famous Briig of the Tuatha de Danann is that of Manannan Mac 
Lir. Among the visitors was Bran, the son of Febal, whose story 
may be found in the Leabhar na h' Uidhre, the oldest of the great 
Irish vellums. [| One day as he was alone in his palace there came 
to him soft, sweet music, and he fell asleep. When he awoke a 
silver branch, covered with flowers, was at his side. A short while 
after, as he was in the midst of his kinsfolk, his chiefs, and his 
nobles, an unknown damsel appeared, and bid him to her in the 

* D'Arbois de Jubainville, op. cit., p. 275. Rhys, op. cit., p. 149. 

f M. Duvau, Eevue Celtique, Vol. IX., No. 1, has translated the varying 
versions of the story. 

J Like many of the older Irish tales the present form is confused and 
obscure, but it is easy to arrive at the original. 

The part in brackets is found in one version only of the story. Of the two 
versions each has retained certain archaic features not to be found in the other. 

|] Summarised by D'Arbois de Jubainville, op. cit., p. 323. 


land of Sidhe, and then vanished, and with her the branch. Bran 
set sail, and with him thirty men. After two days' wandering they 
met Manannaii Mac Lir. They continued their journey until they 
came to an island dwelt in solely by women ; their queen it was 
who had sent for Bran. He stayed with her a while, and then 
came back to Ireland. 

But the most famous of the visits to the Brug of Manannan is 
that of Cormac Mac Art, whom the Irish legendary annals place in 
the third century of our era, and bring into connection with Fionn. 
The story, though only known to us from later MSS., can be traced 
back to the tenth century at least, as the title of it figures in a list 
preserved in the Book of Leinster, and as it is apparently alluded 
to by the eleventh century annalist, Tighernach.* The following 
summary is from a version, with English translation by Mr. Stan- 
dish Hayes O'Grady, in the third volume of the Ossianic Society's 

Of a time that Cormac was in Liathdruim he saw a youth 
having in his hand a glittering fairy branch, with nine apples of 
red gold upon it.f And this was the manner of that branch, that 
when any one shook it, men wounded and women with child would 
be lulled to sleep by the sound of the very sweet fairy music which 
those apples uttered, and no one on earth would bear in mind any 
want, woe, or weariness of soul when that branch was shaken for 
him. Cormac exchanged for this branch his wife and son and 
daughter, overcoming their grief by shaking the branch. But 
after a year, Cormac went in search of them. And he chanced 
upon a land where many marvels were wrought before his eyes, 
and he understood them not. At length he came to a house 
wherein was a very tall couple, clothed in clothes of many colours, 
and they bade him stay. And the man of the house brought a log 

* D'Arbois de Jubainville, p. 326. 

+ Otto Kiipp, Z.f .D. Phil, xvii, i, 68, examining Wolfram's version sees in the 
branch guarded by Q-ramoflanz and broken by Parzival a trace of the original myth 
underlying the story. G-ramoflanz is connected with the Magic Castle (one of the 
inmates of which is his sister), or with the otherworld. E/iipp's conjecture 
derives much force from the importance given to the branch in the Irish tales as 
part of the gear of the otherworld. 


and a wild boar, and if a quarter of the boar was put under a 
quarter of the log, and a true story was told, the meat would be 
cooked. At Cormac's request the host told the first story, how that 
he had seven swine with which he could feed the world, for if the 
swine were slain, and their bones put in the sty, on the morrow 
they would be whole again ; and the hostess the second, how that 
the milk of her seven white kine would satisfy the men of the 
world. Cormac knew them for Manannan and his wife, and then 
told his story how he had lost and was seeking for wife and 
children. Manannan brought in the latter, and told Cormac it was 
he who gave him the branch, that he might bring him to that house. 
Then they sat down to meat, and the table-cloth was such that no 
food, however delicate, might be demanded of it, but it should be 
had without doubt ; and the drinking cup was such that if a false 
story was told before it, it went in four pieces, and if a true one, 
it came whole again, and therewith was the faith of Cormac's 
wife made evident. And Manannan gave branch and cloth and 
goblet to Cormac, and thereafter they went to slumber and sweet 
sleep. Where they rose upon the morrow was in the pleasant 

The foregoing examples have been akin to the incident of the 
Maiden Castle. We have seen the race of immortals caring for 
the sons of men, signalling out and alluring to themselves the 
brave and wise hero. In the tales we are now about to examine 
the benefit conferred by the visitor upon the inmates of the Magic 
Castle is insisted upon. But we must first notice a tale which 
presents many of the incidents of the Grail romances, without 
actually belonging to the same story group as they. In Campbell's 
No. LXXXVI, the Daughter of King Under the Waves, Diarmaid, 
the fairest and bravest of the Fenian heroes, weds a fay who, as her 
description indicates, belongs to the same order of beings as the 
damsels who lure away Connla and Bran, the son of Febal. She 
comes to him in loathly guise, and the other heroes shrink from her ; 
but Diarmaid, courteous as he is brave, gives her the shelter of 
tent and bed and has his reward. She builds for him such a castle 
as the fay mistress of the Knight of the Black Tomb (supra, p. 17) 
builds for her lover. But she warns him that after a threefold 


reproach as to how he found her she would have to leave him. 
Through the cunning of Fionn he is led to break the taboo and "it 
was in a mosshole he awoke on the morrow. There was no castle, 
or a stone left of it on another." Diarmaid sets forth to seek his wife, 
he finds her ailing to death, and to be cured she must have three 
draughts from the cup of the King of the Plain of Wonder. 
Helped by a little russet man, he gets the talisman, as was pro- 
phesied of him; but, advised by the little russet man, he gives the 
maiden to drink out of a certain well, which changes their love into 
aversion, and he returns to the light of day. 

This last feature should be noted as characteristic. The mortal 
lover always tires sooner than the fay mistress. Oisin cannot stay 
in Tir-na n-Og Perceval gives but one night to the Lady of the 

We now come to the " unspelling" stories, and I will cite in the 
first place one which is the most striking testimony I know of to 
the influence of this formula upon Celtic mythic lore. There is a 
widely spread folk-tale of a hero robbed of three magic gifts and 
getting them back thus ; by chance he eats some fruit or herb 
which changes him into an ass, causes his nose to grow, sets horns 
upon his head, or produces some equally unpleasant result. Another 
herb he finds heals him. Armed with specimens of either, he wins 
back his talismans. In Grimm it is No. 122, Der Krautesel, and 
in Vol. III., p. 201, variants are given. In one the hero is one of 
three soldiers, and he receives the gifts from a little grey man. But 
neither here nor in the variants given by Dr. R. Kohler (Orient 
und Occident, II., p. 124) is the opening the same as in Campbell's 
No. X. The Three Soldiers. 

The three come to a house in the wilderness dwelt in by three 
girls who keep them company at night, but disappear during the 
day. In the house is a table, overnight they eat off it, and when 
they rise the board is covered, and it would not be known that a bit 
had ever come off it. At the first night's close one soldier gets a 
purse never empty ; at the second, the next one a cloth always filled 
with meat; and the third, the youngest (the hero), a transporting 
whistle. But as they leave he must needs ask them who they are, 
and they burst out crying, " They were under charms till they could 



find three lads who would spend three nights with them without 
putting a question had he refrained they were free." 

In one variant the time of probation lasts a year, and the talis- 
mans are : a cup that empties not, and a lamp of light, the table- 
cloth of meat, and a bed for rest. In another the damsels are 
swanmaids,* and the visitors are bidden " not to think nor order 
one of us to be with you in lying down or rising up."f 

There can, I think, be little doubt that this last variant re- 
presents the oldest form of the story, and that the swanmaid 
damsels belong to the otherworld, as do the daughter of King 
Under the Waves and the maiden who fetches Connla. There is 
nothing surprising in swanmaids being the object of a taboo, this 
is so invariably the case in myth and folk-lore that it is needless 
to accumulate instances; what is unique to my knowledge, I 
speak under correction, is the fact of these damsels being in pos- 
session of the talismans, one of which is so obviously connected 
with the Grail. It may be noted that the obligation laid upon the 
hero is the direct opposite of that in the Grail romances, in the 
one case a question must not be asked, in the other it must. In 
this respect Campbell's tale of course falls into line with all the 
widely spread and varying versions of the Melusine legend. The 
supernatural wife always forbids her husband some special act 
which, as is perhaps natural, he can never refrain from doing. 

The next form of the Bespelled Castle legend is one which has 
attained far greater celebrity than any other on account of its 
traditional association with historical personages. It pictures the 
inmate of the castle as a King, with his warriors around him, 
sunk into magic sleep, and awaiting a signal to come forth and free 
his folk. To many English readers this legend will be more 
familiar in connection with Frederick BarbarossaJ or with Holger 

* This recalls the fact that Oengus of the Brug fell in love with a swan- 
maid. See text and translation Kevue Celtique, Vol. III., pp. 341, et. seq. The 
story is alluded to in the catalogue of epic tales (dating from the tenth century) 
found in the Book of Leinster. 

f In a variant from Kashmir (Knowles' Folk -tales of Kashmir, London, 1888 
p. 75, et. seq.), Saiyid and Said, this tale is found embedded in a twin-brethren 

Frederick (I.) Barbarossa is a mistake, as old as the seventeenth century 


the Dane than with any Celtic worthy. Yet the oldest historic 
instance is that of Arthur.* I have quoted (supra, p. 122) 
Gerald's words relating to the mountain seat of Arthur. A more 
definite tradition, and one closely resembling the episode in the 
Grail romances, is the one noted by Gervasius of Tilburyf (c. 
1211 A.D.). A groom of the Bishop of Catania, following a runaway 
horse even to the summit of Mount Etna, found himself in a far 
reaching plain, full of all things delightful. A marvellous castle 
rose before him, wherein lay Arthur on a royal bed, suffering from 
the wound inflicted upon him by Modred his nephew, and Childeric 
the Saxon, and this wound broke out afresh each year. The King 
caused the horse to be given to the groom, and made him many rich 

This tradition of Arthur in Sicily raises some very interesting 
questions. For one thing it is a fresh example of the tremendous 

(cf. Koch, Sage vom Kaiser Friedrich in Kyffhauser, Leipzig, 1886), for Frederick 
II., the first G-erman Emperor of whom the legend was told. The mistake was 
caused by the fact that Frederick took the place of a German red -bearded god, 
probably Thor, hence the later identification with the red-bearded Frederick, 
instead of with that great opponent of the Papacy whose death away in Italy 
the German party refused for many years to credit. 

* Unless the passage relating to Carl the Great quoted by Grimm (D.M., III., 
286) from Mon. Germ. Hist., Vol. VIII., 215, " inde fabulosum illud confictum 
de Carolo Magno, quasi de mortuis in id ipsum resuscitate, et alio nescio quo 
nihilominus redivivo," be older. 

t Liebrecht's edition of the Otia Imperialia, Hanover, 1856, p. 12, and 
note p. 55. 

Martin Zur Gralsage, p. 31, arguing from the historical connection of 
Frederick II. with Sicily, thinks that the localisation of this Arthurian legend in 
that isle was the reason of its being associated with the Hohenslauffen 5 in other 
words, the famous G-erman legend would be an indirect offshot of the Arthurian 
cycle. I cannot follow Martin here. I see no reason for doubting the genuineness 
of the traditions collected by Kuhn and Schwartz, or for disbelieving that 
Teutons had this myth as well as Celts. It is no part of my thesis to exalt 
Celtic tradition at the expense of German ; almost all the parallels I have 
adduced between the romances and Celtic mythology and folk-lore could be 
matched from those of Germany. But the romances are historically associated 
with Celtic tradition, and the parallels found in the latter are closer and more 
numerous than those which could be recovered from German tradition. It is, 
therefore, the most simple course to refer the romances to the former instead of 
to the latter. 


and immediate popularity of the Arthurian legend. It also shows 
with what rapidity a tradition, however remote in its origin from 
a particular spot, may associate itself with that. Of more im- 
mediate interest to us is the question whether this tradition has 
any direct connection with the Grail romances, whether it has 
shaped or been shaped by them. Martin refers the Maimed 
King of the romances to the same myth-root as the wounded 
Arthur waiting in Etna or in Avalon till his wound be healed and 
he come forth. It seems to me more likely that in so far as the 
wound is concerned there is a coincidence merely between the two 
stories, and that the Wounded King belongs properly to the feud 
quest. I do not, however, deny that the fact of the Lord of the 
Bespelled Castle, of the otherworld, being sometimes pictured as 
suffering from an incurable wound, may have aided that fusion of 
the two strains of legend which we find in the romances. 

It is not my purpose to examine here in detail the innumerable 
versions of this widely-spread tradition*, the more so as I have been 
able to trace no exact parallel to that presentment of the story 
found in Heinrich von dem Turlin and in the Didot-Perceval. 
No other version of this form of the legend, to my knowledge, 
pictures the Bespelled King as awaiting the deliverance of death 
at the hands of his visitor. Before endeavouring to find a reason 
for the singularity of Heinrich's account, I will first quote one 
variant of the common form of the legend which has not been 
printed before save by myself in the Folk-Lore Journal, Vol. I., 
p. 193. f King Arthur sleeps bespelled in the ruins of (Richmond) 
Castle. Many have tried to find him but failed. One man only, 
Potter Thompson by name, wandering one night among the ruins 
chanced upon the hall wherein sat the King and his men around a 
table upon which lay a horn and a sword. Terrified, he turned 
and fled, and as he did so a voice sounded in his ears 
" Potter Thompson, Potter Thompson, 

Had'st thou blown the horn, 

Thou had'st been the greatest man 

That ever was born." 

* See Grimm, D.M., Ch. XXXII. ; Fitzgerald, Kev. Celt., IV., 198 ; and the 
references in Liebrecht, op. cit. 

t Personally communicated by the Kev. Mr. Sorby, of Sheffield. 


for then he would have freed Arthur from his magic sleep. Never 
again could he reach that hall. 

This version, besides being practically inedited has the merit of 
exemplifying that association of the sword with the Lord of the 
Bespelled Castle to which I have already alluded. 

The instances of the visit to the otherworld which have thus far 
been collected from Celtic mythic literature, and which have been 
used as parallels to the unspelling quest of the romances, are 
more closely akin to one example of this incident, Perceval's visit 
to the Castle of Maidens, than to that found in Heinrich and the 
Didot-Perceval. None, indeed, throw any light upon that death-in- 
life which is the special feature in these two works. All are of 
one kind in so far as the disposition of the inmates towards the 
visitor is concerned ; he is received with courtesy when he is not 
actually allured into the castle, and the trials to which he is subjected 
are neither painful nor humiliating. But it will not have escaped 
attention that the Conte du Graal contains another form of the 
visit, one which I have hitherto left unnoticed, in Gawain's visit 
to the Magic Castle. A new conception is here introduced : 
the Lord of the Castle* is an evil being, who holds captive fair 
dames and damsels ; they it is, and not he, whom the hero must 
deliver, and the act of deliverance subjects him to trial and peril 
(supra, p. 14, Chr. Inc. 17). Let us see if this form affords any 
explanation of the mysterious features of Heinrich's version. 
This incident may, it is easily conceivable, be treated in two ways ; 
the hero may be a worthy knight and succeed, or a caitiff and fail. 
A story of this latter kind may throw some light upon Gawain's 
adventures at the Magic Castle. The story in question (The Son 
of Bad Counsel) is ascribed by Kennedy, Legendary Fictions, pp. 

* In Chrestien the part of the Magician Lord is little insisted upon. But in 
Wolfram he is a very important personage. It may here be noted that the effects 
which are to follow in Chrestien the doing away with the enchantments of this 
Castle, answer far more accurately to the description given by the loathly G-rail- 
Maiden of the benefits which would have accrued had Perceval put the question at 
the Court of the Fisher King than to anything actually described as the effect of 
that question being put, either by Gautier, Manessier, or Gerbert. This castle 
seems, too, to be the one in which lodge the Knights, each having his lady love 
with him, which the loathly maiden announces to be her home. 


132, etseq., to an author of the early eighteenth century, Brian Dhu 
O'Reilly, and traced back to an older Ossianic legend Conan's de- 
lusions in Ceash, of which Kennedy prints a version, pp. 232, et seq. 
The hero of the story comes to the Castle of a Gruagach, named 
the Giant of the Unfrequented Land, and his wife, daughter to the 
King of the Lonesome Land. The name of the castle is the 
Uncertain Castle. Very fair is their daughter, and she is proffered 
to the hero for his promised aid against other fairy chieftains. 
After playing at backgammon with the Gruagach, the hero lays 
himself to bed. He is assailed, as he fancies, by great dangers 
from which he hastens to flee, and, waking, finds himself in a 
ridiculous plight with his lady-love, and the other folk of the castle 
laughing at him. In the morning he awakes, " and his bed was the 
dry grass of a moat." 

The names of the personages in the story at once recall those 
of the romances the Waste Land or Forest, the Castle Perillous, 
and the like and one of the trials, the being shot at with fairy 
darts, is the same as that to which Gawain is exposed in the Conte 
du Graal. But it is interesting chiefly as being a version of a wide- 
spread tale of how gods or heroes penetrating to the other world are 
made mock of by its inmates. In Scandinavian mythology the 
story is well-known as Thor's visit to Utgarth Loki. It is equally 
well-known in the Fionn saga, and, considering the many points of 
contact we have hitherto found between Fionn and the Grail hero, 
the Fenian form claims our notice. The oldest preserved form of 
the story, that in the Book of Leinster, has been printed with 
translation by Mr. Whitley Stokes, Revue Celt., Vol. VII., pp. 289, 
et seq. Fionn comes at nightfall with Cailte and Oisin to a house 
he had never heard of in that glen, knowing though he was. A grey 
giant greets them ; within are a hag with three heads on her thin 
neck, and a headless man with one eye protruding from his breast. 
Nine bodies rise out of a recess, and the hideous crew sing a strain to 
the guests ; " not melodious was that concert." The giant slays their 
horses ; raw meat is offered them, which they refuse ; the inmates of 
the house attack them ; they had been dead had it not been for Fionn 
alone. They struggle until the sun lights up the house, then a mist 
falls into every one's head, so that he was dead upon the spot. The 


champions rise up whole, and the house is hidden from them, and 
every one of the household is hidden. In the later Fenian saga 
(later that is as far as the form in which it has come down to us is 
concerned) the story closely resembles Thor's visit. Kennedy 
(Bardic Stories, pp. 132, et seq.) has a good version.* Fionn and his 
comrades follow a giant, on his shoulders an iron fork with a pig 
screeching between the prongs, behind him a damsel scourging him. 
They follow them to a house wherein is an aged hoary-headed man 
and a beautiful maid, a rough giant cooking the hog, and an old 
man having twelve eyes in his head, a white-haired ram, and a hag 
clad in dark ash coloured garment. Two fountains are before the 
house : Fionn drinks of one which at first tastes sweet, but after- 
wards bitter to death; from the other, and though he never suffered 
as much as while drinking, when he puts the vessel from his lips 
he is as whole as ever he was. The hog is then shared; the ram left 
out of count revenges itself by carrying out the guest's share, and 
smite it with their swords as they may, they cannot hurt it. The 
hag then throws her mantle over the guests, and they become four 
withered drooping-headed old men ; on the mantle being removed 
they resume their first shape. These wonders are explained. The 
giant is sloth, urged on by energy ; the twelve-eyed old man is the 
world ; and the ram the guilt of man ; the wells are truth and false- 
hood ; the hag old age. The warriors sleep and in the morning find 
themselves on the summit of Cairn Feargaill with their hounds and 
their arms by them. 

This tale betrays its semi- literary origin at once ; and, though 
there is no reason to doubt that the Irish Celts had a counter- 
part to Thor's journey to Giantland, I am inclined to look upon 
the version just summarised as influenced by the Norse saga. 
Certain it is that the popular version of Fionn's visit to Giantland 
is much more like the eleventh century poem, preserved in the 
Book of Leinster, than it is like the mediaeval, " How Fionn fared 
in the House of Cuana." I have already alluded {supra, p. 186) 

* Kennedy follows in the main Oss. Soc., Vol. II, pp. 118, et. seq., an 
eighteenth century version translated by Mr. O'Kearney. This particular 
episode is found, pp. 147, et. seq. I follow the Oss. Soc. version in preference to 
Kennedy's where they differ. 


to one feature of the tale of Fionn's enchantment, but the whole 
tale is of interest to us. As Fionn and his men are sitting round 
the fire boasting of their prowess in comes a slender brown hare and 
tosses up the ashes, and out she goes. They follow her, a dozen, to 
the house of the Yellow Face, a giant that lived upon the flesh of 
men. A woman greets them, and bids them begone before the Face 
returns, but Fionn will not flee. In comes the Face and smells out 
the strangers. Six of the Fenians he strikes with a magic rod, "and 
they are pillars of stone to stop the sleety wind." He then cooks 
and devours a boar, and the bones he throws to the Fenians. They 
play at ball with a golden apple, and the Face puts an end to 
Fionn's other comrades. Hereafter he wrestles with Fionn, and the 
griddle is put on the fire till it is red hot, and they all get about 
Fionn and set him on the griddle till his legs are burnt to the hips 
('twas then he said, "a man is no man alone"), and stick a flesh- 
stake through both his hams, so that he could neither rise nor sit, 
and cast him into a corner. But he manages to crawl out and 
sound his horn, and Diarmaid hears it and comes to his aid, and 
does to the Face as the Face did to Fionn, and with the cup of 
balsam which he wins from him makes Fionn whole. It is not 
necessary to dwell on the parallel between Diarmaid healing his 
uncle Fionn, wounded with a stake through the two thighs, by 
winning the cup of balsam, and Perceval healing his uncle 
(mehaignie des II cuisses) by the question as to the Grrail. This, 
alone, would be sufficient to show us what role the Grail played in 
the oldest form of the feud quest before the latter was influenced 
by the visit to the Bespelled Castle. 

If we look at the stories we have just summarised, we shall 
easily understand the meaning of the Magic Castle vanishing at 
dawn. As sleep is brother to death, so are night and its realm 
akin to the otherworld; many phantoms haunt them and seem 
quick and strive with and often terribly oppress the mortal 
wanderer through this domain, but with the first gleam of sunlight 
they vanish, leaving no trace behind them, and the awakening hero 
find himself in his own place. The conditions of the visit to the 
otherworld are thus partly determined by man's nightly experience 
in that dreamland which he figures to himself as akin to, if not an 


actual portion of the land of shades. This visit, as we have seen, is 
conceived of in several ways. Its object is almost invariably to win 
precious talismans ; all we have conies to us from our forefathers, 
and it is natural to suppose that in the world whence they came, 
and whither they go back, is to be found all that man seeks here, 
only in a form as more wonderful than earthly objects as the 
dwellers in the otherworld are mightier and cleverer than man. At 
times the talismans are held by beneficent beings, who either gladly 
yield them to the mortal visitor, or from whom they may be won by 
the exhibition of valour and magnanimity ; at times by evil monsters 
with whom the mortal must strive. In either case the visitor 
arrives at nightfall and in the morning awakes to the life of this 

The secondary or Gawain form of the myth, as found in the 
Conte de Graal, may help us to understand Heinrich's version. It 
is to free imprisoned damsels that Gauvain undergoes the trials of 
the Magic Castle. Now the effect of his visit in the German poem 
is to free the sister of Gansguoter, who, with her maidens, remains 
when the othQf inmates of the castle, released by the question, have 
utterly vanished.* But what means the death-in-life condition of 
the King and his men ? Is it merely an expedient to account for 
their sudden vanishing at daylight ? I rather see here the influence 
of another form of the unspelling myth, one that mixed with Chris- 
tian elements has powerfully impressed the popular imagination, 
and is in many European countries the only one in which this old 
myth still lives on.f 

* The story as found in Heinrich may be compared with the folk-tale of the 
Sleeping Beauty. She is a maiden sunk in a death-in-life sleep together with all 
her belongings until she be awakened by the kiss of the destined prince. May we 
not conjecture tbat in an older form of the story than any we now possess, the 
court of the princess vanished when the releasing kiss restored her to real life and 
left her alone with the prince ? The comparison has this further interest, that 
the folk-tale is a variant of an old myth which figures prominently in the hero- 
tales of the Teutonic race (Lay of Skirni, Lay of Swipday and Menglad, Saga of 
Sigurd and Brunhild), and that in its most famous form Siegfried, answering in 
Teutonic myth to Fionn, is its hero. But Peredur is a Cymric Fionn, so that 
the parallel between the two heroes, Celtic and Teutonic, is closer than at first 
appears when Siegfried is compared only to his Gaelic counterpart. 

t I have not examined Gawain's visit to the Magic Castle in detail, in the 


The inmates of the Magic Castle or house are in this form 
figured as men doomed for some evil deed to haunt that particular 
spot, until some mortal is bold enough to win their secret and 
bring them rest. One would think that under the circumstances 
they would be as amiable as possible to any visitor. But the 
older form of the story persists, and they have not terrors or trials 
enough for the man who is to be their deliverer. I will only quote 
one version, from Irish sources.* 

A youth engages to sleep in a haunted castle. If he is alive 
in the morning he will get ten guineas and the farmer's daughter 
to wife. At nightfall he goes thither, and presently three men in 
old-fashioned dress come down in pieces through a hole in the 
ceiling, put themselves together, and begin playing at football. 
Jack joins them, and towards daybreak he judges they wish him 
to speak, so he asks them how he can give them rest if rest they 
want. " Them is the wisest words you ever spoke," is answered 
to him. They had ground the poor and heaped up wealth evilly. 
They show him their treasure, and tell him how to make restitu- 
tion. As they finish, " Jack could see the wall through their body, 
and when he winked to clear his sight the kitchen was as empty as 
a noggin turned upside down." Of course Jack does as he is told, 
and has the daughter to wife, and they live comfortably in the old 
castle, f 

first place because it only bears indirectly upon the Grail- Quest, and then 
because I hope before very long to study the personality of Gawain in the 
romances, and to throw light upon it from Celtic mythic tradition in the same 
way that I have tried in the foregoing pages to do in the case of Perceval. 

* Kennedy, Legendary Fictions, p. 154, et. seq. 

f Grimm, Vol. III., p. 9 (note to Marcben von einem der auszogdas Fiirchten 
zu lernen), gives a number of variants. It should be noted that in this story 
there is the same mixture of incidents of the Magic Castle and Haunted Castle 
forms as in the romances. Moreover, one of the trials to which the hero's courage 
is subjected is the bringing into the room of a coffin in which lies a dead man, 
just as in Gawain's visit to the Grail Castle. Again, as Grimm notes, but mis- 
takenly refers to Perceval instead of to Gawain, the hero has to undergo the adven- 
tures of the magic bed, which, when he lays himself down in it, dashes violently 
about through the castle and finally turns topsy turvy. In connection with this 
story, and with the whole series of mythical conceptions noted in the Grail 
romances, Chapter XXXII. of the Deutsche Mythologie deserves careful study. 
Grimm compares Con duiramur's (Blanchefleur's) nightly visit to Percival's chamber 


We have here, it seems to me, the last echo of such a story as 
one of those which enter into the Grail romances. In Heinrich's 
version, as elsewhere in these romances, different story types can be 
distinguished, different conceptions are harmonised. Many, indeed, 
are both the early conceptions and the varying shapes in which 
they embodied themselves, .to be traced in the complex mass of the 
romances. That a kinsman is bound to avenge a blood feud, and that 
until he does so his kin may suffer from ailment or enchantment 
and their land be under a curse ; that the otherworld is a land of 
feasting and joyousness and all fair things ; that it contains magic 
treasures which he who is bold may win ; that it is peopled with 
beings whom he may free by his courage ; that it is fashioned like 
dreamland all these ideas find expression. 

If the foregoing exposition be accepted we have a valuable 
criterion for the age of the immediate originals of the romances. 
That famous version of the legend which pictured the dwellers in 
the otherworld as Kings, spell bound, awaiting the releasing word 
to come forth and aid their folk, to which special circumstances 
gave such wide popularity in the later middle ages, causing it to 
supplant older tales of gods dwelling in the hollow hills, this version 
has left no trace upon the romances. These must, therefore, be 
older than the full-blown Arthurian legend. One or two minor 
points may be briefly noticed. The ship in whichis found the magic 
sword which wounds all bold enough to handle it save the destined 
Knight may be thought to have taken the place of an older island. 
The loathly Grail messenger shows the influence of the two formulas: 
as coming from the Bespelled Castle,* type of the otherworld, she 

to the appearance at the bedside of the delivering hero ut ti at white maiden, who is 
so frequently figured as the inmate of the Haunted Castle. As niece of the Lord 
of the Grail Castle, Blanchefleur is also a denizen of the otherworld, but I 
hardly think that the episode of Perceval's delivering her from her enemies can 
be looked upon as a version of the removal of the spells of the Haunted Castle. 
In a recent number of the Eevue des Traditions Populaires (III., p. 103), there is 
a good Breton version of the Bespelled Castle sunk under the waves. A fair 
princess is therein held captive ; once a year the waves part and permit access, 
and he who is bold enough to seize the right moment wins princess and castle, 
which are restored to earth. 

* Whether it be the Castle of the Fisher King, i.e., the Castle of the Perceval 
Quest ; or the Magic Castle, i.e., the Castle of the G-awain Quest. 


should be radiantly fair; as the kinswoman of the destined avenger, 
under spells until the vengeance be accomplished, she is hideous in 
the last degree. 

But before we take leave of this incident we must examine two 
features upon which, as yet, no light has been thrown, the meaning 
of the epithet the Fisher King, and the hero's silence upon his first 
visit to the Castle of Talismans. 



The Fisher King in the Conte du Graal, in the Queste, and in Borron and 
the Grand St. Graal The accounts of latter complete eacli other The 
Fish is the Salmon of Wisdom Parallel with the Fionn Saga 
The nature of the Unspelling Quest The Mabinogi of Taliesin and 
its mythological affinities Brons, Bran, Cernunnos Perceval's 
silence : Conte du Graal explanation late ; explanation from the Fionn 
Saga Comparison of incident with geasa ; nature of latter ; references 
to it in Celtic folk-tales and in old Irish literature, Book of Rights, 
Diarmaid, Cuchulainn Geasa and taboo. 

THE Conte du Graal, as we have seen, offers no satisfactory 
explanation of the Fisher King. By Chrestien he is represented on 
Perceval's first meeting with him as angling from a boat steered by 
his companion (v. 4,187) ; he directs Perceval to his castle. Perce- 
val is afterwards informed that, being wounded and consequently 
unable to mount on horseback, fishing is his only solace, whence 
the name applied to him (vv. 4,681, et seqJ). This is practically all 
the Conte du Graal has to say about him, as the continuators, 
whilst repeating the epithet, add no fresh details. Indeed in none 
of the after- visits of Perceval is the King represented as fishing, 
or is there the slightest reference to, let alone insistence upon, this 
favourite occupation of his. It is another proof of the inade- 
quacy of Birch-Hirschf eld's theory of the development of the 
legend, that it represents Chrestien, who, ex hypothesi, divested 
Borron's poem of its religious character, as retaining this feature due 
wholly to religious symbolism, whilst the continuators with their 
obvious fondness for such symbolism entirely neglected it. The 
Queste, which in so far as the quest portion is concerned is for- 
mally connected with the Conte da Graal, says nothing about the 
Fisher, nor does that section of the Grand St. Graal which 


presents the same Early History as the Queste. In Borron's poem, 
on the other hand, and in that later section of the Grand St. Graal 
which agrees with it, an explanation is given of the epithet. 
According to Borron, Brons catches a fish at Joseph's bidding ; 
Joseph, having placed the vessel on the table and covered it with a 
towel, takes the fish and lays it opposite the vessel ; the people are 
then called together, and it is possible to distinguish the sinners from 
the righteous (vv. 2,500-2,600). Joseph is afterwards told by an 
angel, that, as Brons was a good man, it was the Lord's will he 
should catch the fish (vv. 3,310, et seq.), and he is to be called the Rich 
Fisher (v. 3,348). In the Grand St. Graal (Vol. II., pp. 248, et seq.) 
not Brons but his son Alain is bidden by Joseph to fish, and this 
with a view to providing food for the sinners of the company whom 
the Holy Vessel leaves unsatisfied. Alain fishes from a boat with 
a net. He catches but one fish, and there are at first murmurs, but 
Joseph, by virtue of Alain's prayers, multiplies the fish so that it 
feeds the host, and thus Alain wins the name of Rich Fisher. 

These accounts complete each other. Chrestien dwells upon 
the continued act of fishing which, for aught to the contrary we 
learn from him or his continuators, is always fruitless. Borron 
and the Grand St. Graal dwell upon the one successful haul, and 
especially upon the miraculous properties of the one fish caught. 
Reading the two accounts together, we find that the Fisher King 
passes his life seeking for a fish which, when caught, confers upon 
him the power of distinguishing good from evil, or enables him to 
furnish an inexhaustible meal to his men. 

The Conte du Graal has been shown to derive more of its sub- 
stance from the feud quest the Didot-Perceval from the unspel- 
Hng quest. Borron's poem, as far as its primitive Celtic elements 
are concerned, is probably to be ranged with the Didot-Perceval, 
to which many links unite it. We may, therefore, turn to Celtic 
stories belonging to either of these formulas for parallel features. 
The inexhaustible nature of the fish at once recalls the pigs of 
Manannp.n Mac Lir (supra, p. 194) ; they, too, can feed a multitude. 
But it is in stories formally connected with the feud quest that 
we find what I venture to suggest is an adequate explanation of 
the nature of the Fisher King and of the fish. The latter is, I 


think, the Salmon of Wisdom,* which appears so often and so pro- 
minently in Irish mythic lore ; and the former is that being who 
passes his life in vain endeavours to catch the wonderful fish, and 
who, in the moment of success, is robbed of the fruit of all his long 
toils and watchings. I am prepared to admit that the incident 
as found in Borron's poem has been recast in the mould of 
mediaeval Christian symbolism, but I think the older myth can 
still be clearly discerned and is wholly responsible for the incident 
as found in the Conte du Graal.f 

Let us first look at the Irish story. This is found in an account, 
to which allusion has already been made, of the Boyish Exploits of 
Finn Mac Cumhail. J It is there told how Finn seeks his namesake, 
Finn-eges, to learn poetry from him, as until then he durst not 
stay in Ireland for fear of his foes. Now Finn-eges had remained 
seven years by the Boyne, watching the salmon of Linn-Feic, which 
it had been foretold Finn (himself as he thought) should catch 
and know all things afterwards. Finn, who conceals his name, 
takes service with him and the salmon is caught. Finn is set to 
watch it while it roasts, but warned not to eat of it. Inadvertently 
he touches it with his thumb, which he burns, arid carries to his 
mouth to cool. Immediately he becomes possessed of all knowledge, 
and thereafter he had only to chew his thumb to obtain wisdom. 
Finn-eges recognises that the prophecy has been fulfilled, and hails 
his pupil as Finn. 

It is needless to dwell upon the archaic features of this tale, 

* For fuller information about this mysterious fish, see Rhys, Hibbert 
Lectures, pp. 553-54. 

f In an already quoted tale of Campbell's (LVIII., the Eider of Grianaig) 
allusion is made to the "black fisherman working at his tricks." Campbell 
remarks that a similar character appears in other tales. Can this wizard fisher 
be brought into contact with the Kich Fisher of Pseudo-Chrestien (supra, p. 8), 
who knew much of black art, and could change his semblance a hundred times ? 

J Complete text, edited by Kuno Meyer, Kevue Celt., Vol. V. Major portion 
of text with English translation by Dr. J. O'Donoyan, Oss. Soc., Vol. IV. The 
tract as a whole is only known to us from a fifteenth century MS. ; but the 
earlier portion of it appears in the L.n.H., in a strongly euhemerised form, 
only such incidents being admitted as could be presented historically, and these 
being divested of all supernatural character. See my paper, " Folk- Lore Kecord," 
Vol. IV., for a discussion of the genuine and early character of the tract. 



which represents the hero seeking service of a powerful magician, 
from whom he hopes to learn the spells and charms that may guard 
him against his foes. Here, as in many other portions of the 
Ossianic saga, Fionn is strikingly like a Red Indian medicine 
man, or the corresponding wizard among other savage tribes. It is 
more to our purpose to note that this tale contains the fullest 
presentment of Fionn as hero of the Expulsion and Return 
Formula, and that a similar incident is to be found in the lives of 
other heroes of the formula (notably Siegfried : the Adventure with 
Mimir.) Now, as we have already seen that Peredur- Perceval is a 
formula hero, there is nothing remarkable in finding an analogous 
incident in his sage. A formal connection is thus at once made out. 
But we must look into the matter a little closer, as the incident 
found in the romances is but a faint echo, and that in part dis- 
torted by alien conceptions, of the original story. 

The unspelling quest in one form resolves itself ultimately into 
the hero's search for riches, power, or knowledge, in prosecution of 
which he penetrates to the otherworld. This is figured in the Grail 
romances both by Brons' or Alain's (who here answers to Fionn) 
catching the wonderful fish, and by Peredur- Perceval coming to the 
house of Brons, the Fisher King (who here answers to Finn-eges), 
winning from him the mysterious vessel of increase, and learning 
the secret words which put an end to the enchantments of Britain. 
In the Grail romances the idea of wisdom is not associated with the 
Grail, the vessel, at all ; it is either bound up with the fish, as in 
the Irish tale, or is the possession of the Fisher King as the wonder- 
working spells are the possession of Finn-eges. 

But in the Welsh tradition which corresponds to that of Fionn 
and the salmon, it is the vessel, the cauldron, or rather the drink 
which it holds, which communicates the gift of wisdom and know- 
ledge. I allude, of course, to the story of Gwion, set by Ceridwen 
to watch the cauldron of inspiration, inadvertently tasting its 
contents, becoming thereby filled with knowledge, pursued by 
Ceridwen, who swallows him, and in whom he re-incarnates himself 
as Taliesin, the Allwise Bard. Campbell had already (Vol. IV., 
p. 299) drawn attention to the similarity of the two stories, and 
equated Fionn, father of Oisin, with Gwion, father of Taliesin ; 


and, as Professor Rhys has now (Hibbert Lectures, p. 551) given the 
equation his sanction, it may be accepted as philologically sound. 

I have hitherto refrained in the course of these studies from 
making any use of the Mabinogi of Taliesin, or of references to the 
cauldron of Ceridwen of a like nature with those contained in that 
tale ; bat it will, I think, be admitted now that the Welsh Mabinogi, 
however late in form, and however overlaid it may be with pseudo- 
archaic bardic rubbish, does go back to a primitive stratum of 
Celtic mythology. 

In connection with this myth the name Brons is of high import. 
This catcher of the fish, this lord of the Grail, at once suggests 
Bran, who is also a guardian of the magic cauldron. Professor 
Rhys (pp. 85-95) shows reason for looking upon Bran (as he is 
presented in the Mabinogi of Branwen) as the representative of 
an old Celtic god, Cernunnps, that Celtic Dis from whom, as Caesar 
reports, the Gauls claimed descent, and who, as god of the other- 
world and the shades was also god of knowledge and riches. We 
are thus brought back again to the fundamental conception of the 
Grail quest. 

It is to this tale that I would turn for one of the possible ex- 
planations of Perceval's silence at the Court of the Fisher King. 
That the romance writers did not understand this incident is 
evident from the explanation they give. 

Gonemans' moral advice to his nephew on the evil of curiosity 
may have its foundation in a possible feature of the original, 
about which I shall speak presently ;. or it may simply be an ex- 
pedient of Chrestien's or of his immediate model. In either case 
its present form is obviously neither old nor genuine. The silence 
of Perceval may, perhaps, be referred to the same myth-root as 
Fionn's concealment of his name whilst in the service of Finn-eges.* 
This prohibition might extend not only to the disclosing of his 
name by the mortal visitor to the realm of the shades, but to the 
utterance of any words at all. As he might not eat or drink in the 

* A reason for this concealment may be found in the idea, so frequently met 
with in a certain stage of human development, that the name is an essential por- 
tion of the personality, and must not be mentioned, especially to possible enemies 
or to beings possessed of magical powers, lest they should make hurtful use of it. 

P 2 

212 GEASA. 

underworld, so he might not speak lest he lose the power to return 
to the land of the living. One tale we have seen (supra, p. 195) 
does contain this very injunction to say no word whilst in company 
of the dwellers in the Bespelled Castle. In this case we should 
have to assume that two varying redactions of the theme have been 
maladroitly fused into one in the romances that, namely, which 
bids the visitor to the otherworld abstain from a certain act, and 
that which, on the contrary, bids him perform a certain act, failure 
of compliance with the injunction being punished in either case. 
The positive injunction of one form of the story is used as an 
explanation of the hero's failure in another. 

An alternative hypothesis is that whilst the hero's unreadiness 
of speech, the cause of his want of success at his first visit, comes 
wholly from the unspelling quest, the motive by which the romances 
seek to account for that unreadiness comes from the feud quest. 
The latter, as has been shown, is closely akin to many task-stories ; 
and it is a frequent feature in such stories, especially in the Celtic 
ones, that the hero has to accomplish his quest in spite of all sorts 
of odd restrictions which are laid upon him by an enemy, generally 
by a step-mother or some other evil-disposed relative. In the 
language of Irish mythic tradition Perceval would be under geasa 
to ask no questions, and Gonemans' advice would be the last faint 
echo of such an incident. The form which such prohibitions take 
in Celtic folk-tales is very curious. The gess is generally em- 
bodied in a magical formula, the language of which is very old 
and frequently unintelligible to the narrators themselves. As a 
rule, the hero, by advice of a friendly supernatural being, lays a 
oounterspell upon his enemy. Thus, in " How the Great Tuairs- 
geul was put to Death " (Scot. Celt. Rev. I., p. 70) the magician 
*' lays it as crosses and charms that water leave not your shoe 
until you found out how the Great Tuairsgeul was put to death." 
The hero retorts by laying the same charms that the magician 
leave not the hillock until he return. In Campbell, No. XLVIL, 
Mac Iiin Direach, the stepmother, "sets it as crosses, and as spells, 
and as the decay of the year upon thee ; that thou be not without a 
pool of water in thy shoe, and that thou be wet, cold, and soiled 
until, etc.;" and the hero bespells her, "that thou be standing 


with the one foot on the great house and the other foot on the 
castle : and that thy face be to the tempest whatever wind blows, 
until I return back." The formula in Campbell, No. LI , the Fair 
Gruagach is very archaic. " I lay thee under spells, and under 
crosses, under holy herdsmen of quiet travelling, wandering woman, 
the little calf, most feeble and powerless, to take thy head and thine 
ear and thy wearing of life from off thee if thou tak'est rest by 
night or day ; where thou takest thy breakfast that thou take not 
thy dinner, and where thou takest thy dinner that thou take not 
thy supper, in whatsoever place thou be, until thou findest out in 
what place I may be under the four brown quarters of the globe." 
These instances will suffice to show the nature of the gess in Celtic 
folk-lore, but some references to older Irish literature are necessary 
to show its great importance in the social and religious life of the 
race. O'Donovan (Book of Rights, p. xlv.) explains the word geasa 
as "any thing or act forbidden because of the ill luck that would 
result from its doing;" also " a spell, a charm, a prohibition, an 
interdiction or hindrance." This explanation occurs in the introduc- 
tion to a poem on the restrictions (geasa) and prerogatives (buada) 
of the Kings of Eire, found in the Book of Ballymote (late fourteenth 
century) and Book of Locan (early fifteenth century). The poem is 
ascribed to Cuan O'Lochain (A.D. 1024), and, from the historical allu- 
sions contained in it, O'Donovan looks upon it as in substance due to 
that poet, and as embodying much older traditions. Some of these 
geasa may be quoted. For the King of Eire, " that the sun should 
rise upon him on his bed in Magh Teamhrach ; " for the King of 
Leinster, " to go round Tuath Laighean left hand- wise on Wednes- 
day;" for the King of Munster, "to remain, to enjoy the feast 
of Loch Lein from one Monday to another ; " for the King of 
Connaught, " to go in a speckled garment on a grey speckled steed 
to the heath of Luchaid ;" for the King of Ulster, " to listen to the 
fluttering of the flocks of birds of Luin Saileach after sunset." * Even 
these instances do not exhaust the force or adequately connote the 

* Cf. the whole of the Book of Rights for an exemplification of the way in 
which the pre-Christian Irishman was hedged and bound and fettered by this 
amazingly complicated system of what he might and what he might not do. 


nature of this curious institution. In the Irish hero-tales geasa 
attach themselves to the hero from his birth up, and are the means 
by which fate compasses the downfall of the otherwise invincible 
champion ; thus it is a gess of Diarmaid that he never hunt a swine, 
and when he is artfully trapped into doing it by Fionn he meets 
his death ; it is a gess of Cuchulainri's that he never refuse food 
offered him by women, and as he goes to his last fight he accepts 
the poisoned meal of the witches though he full well knows it will 
be fatal to him.* But, besides this, geasa may also be an appeal to 
the hero's honour as well as a magic charm laid upon him, and it is 
sometimes difficult to see by which of the two motives the hero is 
moved. Thus Graine, wife of Fionn, lays geasa upon Diarmaid 
that he carry her off from her husband, and though he is in the 
last degree unwilling he must comply.f 

Enough has been said to show that we have in the geasa a cause 
quite sufficient to explain the mysterious prohibition to ask 
questions laid upon Perceval, if the first explanation I have offered 
of this prohibition be thought inadequate. 

* They offer him dog's-flesh cooked on rowan spits, and ,it has been con- 
jectured that the gess has a totemistic basis, Culann's Hound (Cuchulainn) 
being forbidden to partake of the flesh of his totem. 

f It is only within the last 100 years that our knowledge of savage and semi- 
savage races has furnished us with a parallel to the " geasa " in the " taboo " of the 
Polynesian. I am not advancing too much in the statement that this institution, 
although traces of it exist among all Aryan races, had not the same importance 
among any as among the Irish Gael. It is another proof of the primitive 
character of Irish social life, a character which may. perhaps, be ascribed to the 
assimilation by the invading Celts of the beliefs and practices of much ruder 



Summing up of the elements of the older portion of the cycle Parallelism 
with Celtic tradition The Christian element in the cycle : the two 
forms of the Early History ; Brons form older Brons and Bran 
The Bran conversion legend The Joseph conversion legend : Joseph 
in apocryphal literature Glastonbury The head in the platter and 
the Veronica portrait The Bran legend the starting point of the 
Christian transformation of the legend Substitution of Joseph for 
Bran Objections to this hypothesis Hypothetical sketch of the 
growth of the legend. 

I HAYE now finished the examination of all those incidents in 
the Grail Quest romances which are obviously derived from some 
other sources than Christian legend, and which are, indeed, referred 
by pronounced adherents of the Christian-origin hypothesis to 
Celtic tradition. I have also claimed a Celtic origin for features 
hitherto referred to Christian legend. This examination will, I 
trust, convince many that nearly all the incidents connected with 
the Quest of the Grail are Celtic in their origin, and that thus alone 
can we account for the way in which they appear in the romances. 
The latter are, as we have seen, in the highest degree inconsistent in 
their account of the mystic vessel and its fortunes ; the most cursory 
examination shows the legend to be composed of two parts, which 
have no real connection with each other ; the older of these parts, 
the Quest, can easily be freed from the traces of Christian 
symbolism ; this older part is itself no homogeneous or consistent 
tale, but a complex of incidents diverse in origin and character. 
These incidents are : the rearing of the hero in ignorance of the 
world and of men; his visit to the court of the King, his uncle; his 
slaying of his father's murderer, the trial made of him by means of 
the broken sword ; his service with the Fisher King ; his quest in 
search of the sword and of the vessel by means of which he is to 


avenge the death or wounding of his kinsman; his accomplishment 
of this task by the aid of a kinsman who is under spells from 
which he will not be loosed until the quest be ended ; the 
adventure of the stag-hunt, in which the bespelled kinsman tests 
the hero's skill and courage ; the hero's visit to the Castle of 
Talismans ; the prohibition under which he labours ; his failure to 
accomplish certain acts ; the effects of his failure ; his visit to the 
Magic Castle, the lord of which is under the enchantment of death- 
in-life ; his visit to the Castle of Maidens ; his visit to the Castle 
Perillous ; and his deliverance of the captive damsels by means of 
the trials which he successfully undergoes. To one and all of these 
incidents Celtic parallels have been adduced ; these have in each 
case been drawn from stories which present a general similarity of 
outline with the Grail romances, or share with them similar 
guiding conceptions, whilst at the same time they are so far dis- 
connected with them that no hypothesis of borrowing can account 
for the features they have in common. The inconsistencies of the 
romances have been explained by the fusion into one of two 
originally distinct groups of stories, and this explanation is confirmed 
by the fact that traces of this fusion may readily be found in the 
parallel Celtic tales. These latter, when studied by scholars who 
never thought of comparing them with the Grail romances, have 
been found to contain mythical elements which other scholars 
had detected independently in the romances. Those features of 
the romances which have perplexed previous students, the 
Fisher King and the omitted question, have been explained from the 
same group of Celtic traditions, and in accordance with the same 
scheme of mythical interpretation which have been used to throw 
light upon the remainder of the cycle. Finally, the one Celtic 
version of the Grail Quest, the Mabinogi, which presents no 
admixture of Christian symbolism, has been shown, when cleared 
of certain easily distinguishable interpolations, to be genuine in- 
character, and to present the oldest form of one of the stories which 
enters into the romances. 

I have tried not to force these parallels, nor to go one step 
beyond what the facts warrant. I have also tried to bear in mind 
that a parallel is of no real value unless it throws light upon the 


puzzling features in the development of the romances. I thus 
rest my case, not so much upon the accumulative effect of the 
similarities which I have pointed out between the romances and 
Celtic tradition, as upon the fact that this reference of the 
romances to certain definite cycles of Celtic myth and legend 
makes us understand, what otherwise we cannot do, how they 
came by their present shape. It now remains to be seen if this 
reference, can in any way explain the Christian element in the legend, 
which I have hitherto left almost entirely out of account. Birch- 
Hirschf eld's hypothesis is condemned, in my opinion, by its failure 
to account for the Celtic element ; although I do not think an ex- 
planation of a late and intruding feature is as incumbent upon me 
as that of the original Celtic basis of the legend is upon him, I yet 
feel that an hypothesis which has nothing to say on such a vital 
point can hardly be considered satisfactory. It is the Chris- 
tian transformation of the old Celtic myths and folk-tales which 
gave them their wide vogue in the Middle Ages, which endowed the 
theme with such fascination for the preachers and philosophers 
who used it as a vehicle for their teaching, and which has endeared 
it to all lovers of mystic symbolism. The question how and why 
the Celtic tales which I have tried, not unsuccessfully I trust, to 
disentangle from the romances were ever brought into contact 
with Christ and His disciples, and how the old mystic vessel of 
healing, increase, and knowledge became at last the sacramental 
cup, must, therefore, be faced. The hypotheses set forth in the pre- 
ceding page might be accepted in their entirety, and the merit of 
this transformation still be claimed, as Birch-Hirschfeld claims it, 
for the North French poets, to whom we owe the present versions 
of the romances. On first reading Birch-Hirschfeld's book, I 
thought this claim one of the flaws in his argument, and, as will be 
seen by reference to Chapter IV., other investigators, who accept the 
Christian origin of the larger part of the legend, hold that it has been 
shaped in these islands, or in accordance with Celtic traditions 
now lost. I think we can go a step farther. A number of myths 
and tales have been used to illustrate the romances. In them 
may be found the personages through whom probably took place the 
first contact between Celtic mythic tradition and Christian legend. 


We must revert for one moment to the results obtained in 
Chapter III. by an examination of the way in which the Grail and 
its fortunes are mentioned in the romances. We there distinguished 
two forms of the distinctively Christian portion of the legend, the 
Early History. In both Joseph is the first possessor and user of the 
holy vessel, but in one its farther fortunes are likewise bound up 
with him or with his seed. He, or his son, it is who leads the Grail 
host to Britain, who converts the island, and by whom the precious 
vessel is handed down through a chosen line of kings in anticipa- 
tion of the promised Knight's coming. In the other form, on the 
contrary, Joseph has nothing to do with Britain, which is converted 
by Brons and his son, Alain ; Brons is the guardian of the holy 
vessel, and, in one version, the fisher of the mystic fish, whilst in 
another his son takes this part. There is repeated insistence upon 
the connection between the Grail host and Avalon. Finally Brons 
is the possessor of "secret words," and may not die until he has 
revealed them to his grandson. 

This account is, we saw, later in form than the Joseph one. As 
we have it, it was written after the greater portion of the Conte 
da Graal, after that redaction of the Early History made use of by 
the author of the Queste and of the firs draft of the Grand St. 
Graal. Its influence only makes itself felt in the later stages of 
development of the legend. But none the less it clearly represents 
an older and purer form of the Early History than that of the 
Queste and of Chrestien's continuators. It has not been doctored 
into harmony with the full-blown Arthurian legend as the Joseph 
Early History has. It is still chiefly, if not wholly, a legend, the 
main purport of which is to recount the conversion of Britain. 

Such a legend is surely more likely to have been shaped by 
Welsh or Breton monks than by North French trouveres. And 
when we notice the Celtic names of the personages, and their 
connection with the Celtic paradise, Avalon, there can remain little, 
if any, doubt respecting the first home of the story. We may thus 
look upon Brons, owner of a mystic vessel, fisher of a mystic fish, 
as the hero of an early conversion legend. But the name Brons 
has at once suggested to most students of the cycle that of Bran. 
The latter is, as we saw in the last Chapter, the representative of an 


old Celtic god of the otherworld. He is the owner of the 
cauldron of renovation. He is also the hero in Welsh tradition 
of a conversion legend, and is commonly known as Bran the 
Blessed. Unfortunately the only explanation we have of this 
epithet occurs in a late triad, to which it is not safe to assign an 
earlier date than the fourteenth century. He is described therein 
as son of Llyr Llediath, " as one of the three blissful Rulers of the 
Island of Britain, who first brought the faith of Christ to the nation 
of the Cymry from Rome, where he was seven years a hostage for 
his son Caradawc."* But if late in form this triad may well 
embody an old tradition. It gives the significant descent of Bran 
from Ltyr, and thereby equates him with Mannanan Mac Lir, with 
whom he presents otherwise so many points of contact. It is quite 
true that the Bran legend, as is pointed out to me by Professor 
Rhys, is mentioned neither in the earliest genealogies nor in 
Geoffrey. But it should be noted that the Grand St. Graal does 
bring one member of the Brons group, Petrus, into contact with 
King Luces, the Lucius to whom Geoffrey ascribes the conversion. 
Again, the epithet " blessed " is applied to Bran in the Mabinogi of 
Branwen, daughter of Llyr. I have placed this tale as a whole as 
far back as the eleventh-tenth centuries, and my arguments have met 
with no opposition, and have won the approval of such authorities 
as Professor Windisch and Monsieur Gaidoz. But the Mabinogi, 
as we have it, was written down in the fourteenth century ; the last 
transcriber abridged it, and at times did not apparently understand 
what he was transcribing. By his time the full-blown Bran legend 
of the triad was in existence, and it may be contended that the 
epithet was due to him and did not figure in his model. On the 
other hand, Stephens (Lit. of the Cymry. p. 425) quotes a triad of 
Kynddelw, a poet of the twelfth century, referring to the three blessed 
families of the Isle of Britain, one of which is declared by a later 
tradition to be that of Bran.f Again, the triads of Arthur and his 

* Mr. Elton (Origins, pp. 291, 292) looks upon Bran and Caradoc as 
original war gods. Caradoc, he thinks, was confounded with Caractacus, Bran 
with Brennus, and hence the two personages were sent to Home in imitation of 
the presumed historical prototypes. 

f Kynddelw's triad does not really refer to the "blessed" families at all, but 


Warriors, printed by Mr. Skene, Four Ancient Books, Vol. II., p. 457, 
from MS. Hengwrt, 566, of the beginning of the fourteenth century, 
and probably at least fifty years older, mentions the " blessed head of 
Bran."* On the whole, in spite of the silence of older sources, I look 
upon the epithet and the legend which it presupposes as old, and I 
see in a confusion between Bran, Lord of the Cauldron, and Bran 
the Blessed, the first step of the transformation of the Peredur sage 
into the Quest of the Holy Grail. In the first capacity Bran 
corresponds to the Lord of the Castle of Talismans. From the way 
in which the fish is dwelt upon in his legend, it may, indeed, be 
conjectured that he stood to Peredur in some such relation as Finn- 
eges to Fionn. As hero of a conversion legend he came into contact 
with Joseph. We do not know how or at what date the legend of 
the conversion of Britain by Joseph originated. It is found enjoying 
wide popularity in the latter half of the twelfth century, the very 
time in which the romances were assuming their present shape. 
Wiilcker (Das Evangelium Nicodemi in der abendlandischen 
Literatur, Paderborn, 1872) shows that the legend is not met with 
before William of Malmesbury ; and Zarncke, as already stated 
(supra, p. 107), has argued that the passage in William is a late 
interpolation due to the popularity of the romances. f But to accept 
Zarncke's contention merely shifts back the difficulty. If William 
did not first note and give currency to the tradition, the unknown 
predecessor of Robert de Borron and of the authors of the Queste 
and Grand St. Graal did so ; and the question still remains how 
did he come by the tradition, and what led him to associate it with 
Glastonbury. Birch-Hirschfeld, it is true, makes short work of 

to the "faithful" or "loyal" families. Stephen's mistake arose from the fact 
of the name Madawc occurring in two sets of triads, one relating to the " lordly " 
families of Britain in which the family of Llyr Llediath also figures, and one to 
the faithful families. In both triads the name is probably a mistake for 
Mabon. (Note communicated by Professor Ehys.) 

I let the statement in the text stand, to exhort myself and others to that fear 
of trusting authorities which in scholarship is the beginning of wisdom. 

* Professor Rhys tells me this passage can only mean "Blessed Bran's head." 

f Mr. Ward endorses Zarncke's contention. According to him there is no trace 

of any connection between Joseph and the evangelisation of Britain which can 

be said to be older than the romances. The statements of the " De ant. eecl. Glast." 

are, he thinks, no guide to the knowledge or opinions of William of Malmesbury. 



this difficulty. The fact that there is no earlier legend in which 
Joseph figures as the Apostle of Britain is to him proof that Borron 
evolved the conception of the Grail out of the canonical and 
apocryphal writings in which Joseph appears, and then devised the 
passage to Britain in order to incorporate the Arthurian romances 
with the legend he had indented. It is needless to repeat that 
this theory, unacceptable on a priori grounds, is still more so when 
tested by facts. 

But Joseph under other aspects than that of Apostle of Britain 
is worthy of notice. The main source whence the legend writers 
drew their knowledge of him was the Evangelium Nicodemi, the 
history of which has been investigated by Wiilcker. The earliest 
allusion in western literature to this apocryphal gospel is that of 
Gregory of Tours (Wiilcker, p. 23), but no other trace of its in- 
fluence is to be met with in France until we come to the Grail 
romances, and to mystery-plays which relate Christ's Harrowing 
of Hell. In Provence, Italy, and Germany the thirteenth and 
twelfth centuries are the earliest to which this gospel can be traced. 
In England, on the contrary, it was known as far back as the latter 
quarter of the eighth century ; Cynewulf based upon it a poem on 
the Harrowing of Hell, and alludes to it in the Crist ; the ninth 
century poem, " Christ and Satan, " likewise shows knowledge of it, 
and there is a West- Sax on translation dating from the early 
eleventh century. 

Whence this knowledge and popularity of the gospel in England 
several centuries before it entered prominently into the literature 
of any other European people ? Wiilcker can only point by way of 
answer to the early spread of Christianity in these Islands, and to 
the possibility of this gospel having reached England before it 
did France or Germany. He also insists upon the early develop- 
ment of Anglo-Saxon literature. 

Whether the fact that the apocryphal writings which told of 
Joseph were known here when they were unknown on the Continent 
be held to warrant or no the existence of a specifically British 
Joseph legend, they at all events prove that he was a familiar and 
favourite legendary figure on British soil. It would be rash to go 
any farther, and to argue from the inadequacy of the reasons by 


which Wiilcker seeks to account for the early knowledge of the 
Evangelism Mcodemi in England, that Joseph enjoyed particular 
favour among the British Christians, and that it was from them 
the tidings of him spread among their Saxon conquerors. 

The legendary popularity of Joseph in these islands, though 
not in any special capacity of Apostle of Britain, is thus attested. 
Let us admit for argument's sake that the conversion legend did 
first take shape in the twelfth century, is it not more likely to 
have done so here, where the apocryphal writings about him were 
widely spread, than in France, where they were practially unknown ? 
And why if Borron, or any other French poet, wanted to connect 
the Holy Vessel legend which he had imagined with Arthur, should 
he go out of his way to invent the personages of Brons and Alain ? 
The story as found in the Queste would surely have been a far 
more natural one for him. And why the insistence upon Avalon ? 
We have plain proof that Borron did not understand the word, as 
he explains it by a ridiculous pun (supra, p. 78).* 

These difficulties are met in a large measure if we look upon 

* I may here notice a theory to which my attention has only just been called. 
It is found cited in a work of great research, Die Fronica, by Professor Karl 
Pearson, Strassburg, 1887. The author quotes an opinion of Mr. Jenner, of the 
British Museum, that the head in the platter of the Mabinogi may be derived 
from, a Veronica portrait. Professor Pearson expresses doubt, because such a 
procession of the Veronica portrait and the Passion Instruments as the scene in 
the Mabinogi would, ex hypothesi, imply is not known to him before the four- 
teenth century, whereas the Mabinogi must be attributed, at latest, to the middle 
of the thirteenth century. Mr. H. L. D. Ward informs me that the suggestion 
was his. Noting the connection of the Veronica and Grail legends, testified to 
by Borron, it occurred to him that the whole scene at the Wounded King's 
might be derived from the former legends. The Wounded King, healed by the 
Grail, would thus be a counterpart of the leprous Vespasian healed by the 
Veronica portrait, which some wandering " jongleur " turned boldly into an 
actual head. But it must be noted that in Borron, our authority for the connec- 
tion of the two legends, there is no Wounded King at all ; in the Conte du Graal 
the Maimed King is not healed by any special talisman, but by the death of his 
enemy, the visible sign of which is that enemy's head, whilst in the " procession " 
(which Mr. Ward thinks to have been intended as a vision), the Grail is cer- 
tainly a vessel, and has no connection whatever with any head or portrait. The 
iheory thus requires that the version which gives the oldest form of the hypo- 
thetical remodelled Veronica legend omitted the very feature which was its sole 
raison d'etre. 


Bran (Brons) as the starting point of the Christian transformation 
of the legend. In any case we may say that a conversion legend, 
whether associated with Joseph or anyone else, would almost in- 
evitably have gravitated towards Glastonbury, but there are special 
reasons why this should be the case with a Bran legend. Avalon 
is certainly the Welsh equivalent of the Irish Tir na n-Og, the land 
of youth, the land beyond the waves, the Celtic paradise. When 
or how this Cymric myth was localised at Glastonbury we know not.* 
We only know that Glastonbury was one of the first places in the 
island to be devoted to Christian worship. Is it too rash a con- 
jecture that the Christian church may have taken the place of some 
Celtic temple or holy spot specially dedicated to the cult of the 
dead, and of that Lord of the Shades from which the Celts feigned 
their descent? The position of Glastonbury, not far from that 
western sea beyond which lie the happy isles of the dead, would 
favour such an hypothesis. Although direct proof is wanting, 1 
believe that the localisation is old and genuine : Bran, ruler of the 
otherworld, of Avalon, would thus come into natural contact with 
Glastonbury ; and if, as I assumej Joseph took his place in the con- 
version legend the association would extend to him. The after 
development of the legend would then be almost a matter of course. 
Bran, the ruler in Avalon, would pass on his magic gear (cauldron, 
spear, and sword, as in the case of the Tuatha de Dannan) to Bran 
the Blessed, who would in his turn transfer them to Joseph. 
And once the latter had entered into the legend, he would not fail 
to recall tha last scene of the Lord's life with which he was so 
closely associated, not by any pseudo-gospel but by the canonical 

* Mr. Ward thinks the localisation a late one, and that practically there is no 
authority for it of an older date than the romances. He points out in especial 
that G-eoffrey's Vita Merlini, which has so much to say about the " insula 
pomorum " in no way connects it with G-lastonbury. There is considerable 
doubt as the etymology of G-lastonbury, but there is substantial unanimity of 
opinion among Celtic scholars of the present day in referring it to a Celtic rather 
than to a Saxon source. Be this as it may, the fact remains that at sometime in 
the course of the twelfth century the old Christian site of Glastonbury took, as 
it were, the place of the Celtic paradise, and it seems far more likely that the 
transformation was effected in virtue of some local tradition than wholly through 
the medium of foreign romances. 


writings themselves, and thus the gear of the old Celtic gods 
became transformed into such objects as were most prominent in 
the story of the Passion and of the scene that immediately preceded 
it. The spear became that one wherewith Christ's side was 
pierced. As for the vessel, the sacramental nature is the last stage 
of its Christian development; its original object was merely to 
explain the sustenance of Joseph in prison, and to provide a 
miraculous refreshment for the Grail host, as is shown by the Early 
History portion of the Conte du Graal and by the Queste. In a 
dim and confused way the circumstances of the Resurrection helped 
to effect the change of the pagan resuscitation- cauldron into a 
symbol of the risen Lord. And some now lost feature of the 
original legend some insistence upon the contents of the vessel, 
some assimilation of them to blood may have suggested the use to 
which the vessel was first put. 

This hypothesis assumes many things. It assumes a Bran 
conversion legend, of which the only evidence of anything like the 
same date as the romances is a single epithet ; it assumes that the 
hero of this legend was originally an old Celtic divinity ; it assumes 
a Joseph conversion legend, for which there is really no other 
evidence than that of the romances ; it assumes the amalgamation 
of the two legends, and that Joseph took over in a large measure 
the role and characteristics of Brons. And when it is recollected 
that the primary assumption, the identification of the two Brans, 
rests in a large measure upon the appearance of the fish in the 
Brons legend, that this fish is nowhere in Celtic tradition associated 
with Bran, that it is associated on the other hand with a being, 
Fionn, whom we have compared with Peredur, but that it is absent 
from the Peredur-saga, the hypothesis must be admitted to be of a 
tentative nature. I fully appreciate the force of the objections that 
can be urged against it ; at the same time it has the merit of ac- 
counting for many puzzling features in the legend. When in the 
same story two personages can be distinguished whose role is more 
or less of the same nature, when the one personage is subordinated 
in one version and has disappeared altogether from the other, it is 
quite legitimate to conclude that two originally independent 
accounts have become blended, and that one has absorbed the 


other. The hypothesis is on safe ground so far. It thus explains 
the presence of Brons in the legend, as well as his absence from 
some versions of it ; it has something to say in explanation of the 
connection with Glastonbury ; it explains in what way the Celtic 
traditions were started on their path of transformation; and it 
provides for that transformation taking the very course it did. 
There is nothing to be urged against it on a priori grounds ; once 
admit the premisses, and the rest follows easily and naturally. Its 
conjectural character (the main objection to it) is shared in an even 
higher degree by the other hypotheses, which have essayed to 
account for the growth and origin of the legend, and they have 
the disadvantage of being inherently impossible. 

In the light of the foregoing investigations and hypotheses we 
may now amplify the sketch history of the whole cycle given in 
Chapter III. The Peredur-saga probably came into existence in 
much its later form at an early date in the Middle Ages. A number 
of older mythical tales centered in a, perhaps, historical personage. 
The circumstances of his life and adventures may have given 
them not only cohesion, but may also have coloured and distorted 
them ; nevertheless they remained, in the main, mythical tales 
of the same kind as those found all over the world. One of these 
tales was undoubtedly a Cymric variant of the Celtic form of the 
Expulsion and Return formula; another dealt with the hero's 
journey to the Land of Shades; traces of many others are to be 
found in the Mabinogi. Another Celtic worthy, Gwalchmai, 
was early associated with Peredur, and the two stood in some 
such relation to each other as the twin brethren of a widely 
spread folk-tale group. Curiously enough, whilst comparatively 
few incidents in the Perednr-saga were worked up into the version 
which served as immediate model to the North French romances, 
that version contained many adventures of Gwalchmai's which 
have not been preserved in Welsh. We can trace three main 
crystallizations of the original saga-mass ; one represented by 
the Proto-Mabinogi contained the feud quest, and, probably, some 
only of the other adventures found in the present Mabinogi ; 
the second, based more on the lines of the Expulsion and Return 
formula, is represented by the Thornton MS. romance ; in the 



third the feud quest was mixed up with, the hero's visit to the 
Bespelled Castle, and those portions of the Gwalchmai-saga which 
told of his visit to Castle Perillous as well as to the Bespelled 
Castle. Whilst the Proto-Mabinogi was probably in prose, the 
Proto-Conte du Graal was probably in verse, a collection of short 
lais like those of Marie de France. Meanwhile, one of the chief 
personages of the older mythic world which appear in the Peredur- 
saga, Bran, the Lord of the Land of Shades, of the Bespelled 
Castle, of the cauldron of healing, increase and wisdom, and of 
the knowledge-giving salmon, had become the Apostle of Britain, 
his pagan attributes thus suffering a Christian change, which was 
perfected when Joseph took the place of Brons, bringing with 
him his gospel associations and the apocryphal legends that had 
clustered round his name. Thus a portion of the saga was 
Christianised, whilst the other portion lost its old, fixed popular 
character, owing to the fusion of originally distinct elements, and 
the consequent unsettling both of the outlines and of the details of 
the story. Incidents and features which in the earlier folk-tale 
stage were sharply defined and intelligible became vague and 
mysterious. In this state, and bearing upon it the peculiarly weird 
and fantastic impress of Celtic mythic tradition, the story, or 
story-mass rather, lay ready to the hand of courtly poet or of 
clerical mystic. At first Christian symbolism was introduced in a 
slight and meagre way the Brons-Joseph legend supplied the 
Christian meaning of the talismans, and that was all. But the 
Joseph legend was soon vigorously developed by the author of the 
work which underlies the Queste and the Grand St. Graal. He 
may either not have known or have deliberately discarded Brons, 
the old Celtic hero of the conversion, as he certainly deliberately 
thrust down from his place of pre-eminence Perceval, the Celtic hero 
of the Quest, substituting -for him a new hero, Galahad, and for the 
adventures of the Conte du Graal, based as they were upon no 
guiding conceptions, fresh adventures intended to glorify physical 
chastity. With all his mystic fervour he failed to see the full 
capacities of the theme, his presentment of the Grail itself being in 
especial either over-material or over- spiritual. But his work 
exercised a profound influence, as is seen in the case of Chrestien's 


continuators. Robert de Borron, on the other hand, if to him the 
merit must be assigned, if he was not simply transcribing an older, 
forgotten version, was a more original thinker, if a less gifted writer. 
Although he was not able to entirely harmonise the conflicting 
accounts of which he made use, he yet succeeded in keeping close 
to the old lines of the legend whilst giving a consistent symbolical 
meaning to all its details. His work came too late, however, to 
exercise the influence it should have done upon the development of 
the legend ; the writers who knew it were mere heapers together 
of adventures, and the very man who composed a sequel to it 
abandoned Robert's main conception. 

The history of the Legend of the Holy Grail is, thus, the history 
of the gradual transformation of old Celtic folk- tales into a poem 
charged with Christian symbolism and mysticism. This trans- 
formation, at first the inevitable outcome of its pre-Christian 
development, was hastened later by the perception that it was a 
fitting vehicle for certain moral and spiritual ideas. These have 
been touched upon incidentally in the course of these studies, but 
they and their manifestation in modern as well as in mediaeval 
literature deserve fuller notice/ 

Q 2 



Popularity of the Arthurian Romance Reasons for that Popularity 
Affinities of the Mediaeval Romances with early Celtic Literature ; 
Importance of the Individual Hero ; Knighthood ; the rdle of Woman ; 
the Celtic Fairy and the Mediaeval Lady ; the Supernatural M. 
Renan's views The Quest in English Literature, Malory The 
earliest form of the Legend, Chrestien, his contiiiuators The Queste 
and its Ideal The Sex-Relations in the Middle Ages Criticism of 
Mr. FurnivalPs estimate of the moral import of the Queste The Merits 
of the Queste The Chastity Ideal in the later versions Modern 
English Treatments : Tennyson, Hawker Possible Source of the 
Chastity Ideal in Popular Tradition The Perceval Quest in "Wolfram ; 
his Moral Conception ; the Question ; Parzival and Conduiramur 
The Parzival Quest and Faust Wagner's Parsifal The Christian 
element in the Legend Ethical Ideas in the folk-tale originals of the 
Grail Romances : the Great Fool, the Sleeping Beauty Conclusion. 

FEW legends have attained such wide celebrity, or been accepted 
as so thoroughly symbolical of one master conception, as that of 
the Holy Grail. Poets and thinkers from mediaeval times to our 
own days have used it as a type of the loftiest goal of man's effort. 
There must be something in the romances which first embodied 
this conception to account for the enduring favour it has enjoyed. 
Nor is it that we read into the old legend meanings and teachings 
undreamt of before our day. At a comparatively early stage in 
the legend's existence its capacities were perceived, and the 
works which were the outcome of that perception became the 
breviary and the exemplar of their age. There are reasons, both 
general and special, why the Celtic mythic tales grew as they did, 
and had such overwhelming vogue in their new shapes. In no 
portion of the vast Arthurian cycle is it more needful or more 
instructive to see what these reasons were than in that which 
recounts the fortunes of the Grail. 

The tales of Peredur and Gwalchmai, bound up with the 


Arthurian romance, shared its success, than which nothing in all 
literary history is more marvellous. It was in the year 1145 that 
Geoffrey of Monmouth first made the legendary history of Britain 
accessible to the lettered class of England and Continent. He 
thereby opened up to the world at large a new continent of 
romantic story, and exercised upon the development of literature 
an influence comparable in its kind to that of Columbus' achieve- 
ment upon the course of geographical discovery and political effort. 
Twenty years had not passed before the British heroes were 
household names throughout Europe, and by the close of the 
century nearly every existing literature had assimilated and 
reproduced the story of Arthur and his Knights. Charlemagne 
and Alexander, the sagas of Teutonic tribes, the tale of Imperial 
Rome itself, though still affording subject matter to the wandering 
jongleur or monkish annalist, paled before the fame of the British 
King. The instinct which led the twelfth and thirteenth centuries 
thus to place the Arthurian story above all others was a true one. 
It was charged with the spirit of romance, and they were pre- 
eminently the ages of the romantic temper. The West had 
turned back towards the East, and, although the intent was hostile, 
the minds of the western men had been fecundated, their imagina- 
tion fired by contact with the mother of all religions and all cultures. 
The achievements of the Crusaders became the standard of attain- 
ment to the loftiest and boldest minds of Western Christendom. 
For these men Alexander himself lacked courage and Roland daring. 
The fathers had stormed Jerusalem, and the sons' youth had been 
nourished on tales of Araby the Blest and Ophir the Golden 
of strife with the Paynim, of the sorceries and devilries of the 
East. Nothing seemed impossible to a generation which knew of 
toils and quests greater than any minstrel had sung, which had 
beheld in the East sights as wondrous and fearful as any the 
jongleur could tell of. Moreover, the age was that of Knight 
Errantry, and of that phase of love in which every Knight must 
qualify himself for the reception of his lady's favours by the per- 
formance of some feat of skill and daring. Such an age and such 
men demanded a special literature, and they found it in adaptations 
of Celtic tales. 


The mythic heroic literature of all races is in many respects 
alike. The sagas not only of Greek or Persian, of Celt or Hindu, 
of Slav or Teuton, but also of Algonquin or Japanese, are largely 
made up of the same incidents set in the same framework. But 
each race shapes this common material in its own way, sets upon 
it its own stamp. And no race has done this more unmistakably 
than the Celtic. Stories which go back to the first century, stories 
taken down from the lips of living peasants, have a kinship of tone 
and style, a common ring which no one who has studied this litera- 
ture can fail to recognise. What stamps the whole of it is the 
prevailing and abiding spirit of romance. To rightly urge the 
Celtic character of the Arthurian romances would require the 
minute analysis of many hundred passages, and it would only be 
proving a case admitted by everyone who knows all the facts 
It will be more to the point to dwell briefly upon those outward 
features which early (i.e., pre- eleventh century) Celtic heroic 
literature has in common with the North French romances of 
the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, especially as we thus gain 
a clue to much that is problematic in the formal and moral 
growth of the Arthurian cycle in general and of the Grail cycle 
in particular. 

In Celtic tradition, as little as in medieeval romance, do we find 
a record of race-struggles such as meets us in the Nibelungenlied, 
in the Dietrich saga, or the Carolingian cycle.* In its place we 
have a glorification of the individual hero. The reason is not far 
to seek. The Celtic tribes, whether of Ireland or Britain, were 
surrounded by men of their own speech, of like institutions and 
manners. The shock of opposing nations, of rival civilisations, 

* The pre-Christian Irish annals, which are for the most part euhemerised 
mythology, contain also a certain amount of race history ; thus the struggle 
between the powers of light and darkness typified by the antagonism between 
Tuatha de Danann and Fomori, is doubled by that between the fair invading 
Celts and the short dark aborigines. But the latter has only left the barest 
trace of H s existence in the national sagas. Not until we come to that secondary 
stage of the Fenian saga, which must have been shaped in the eleventh and twelfth 
centuries, and which represents the Fenians as warring against the harrying 
Northmen, does the foreign element reappear in Irish tradition. 


could not enter into their race-tradition. The story-teller had as 
his chief theme the prowess and skill of the individual " brave," 
the part he took in the conflicts which clan incessantly waged 
with clan, or his encounters with those powers of an older 
mythic world which lived on in the folk-fancy. To borrow Mr. 
Fitzgerald's convenient terminology, the " constants " of this 
tradition may be the same as in that of other Aryan races, the 
"resultants" are not. To give one instance : the conception of a chief 
surrounded by a picked band of warriors is common to all heroic 
tradition, but nowhere is it of such marked importance, nowhere 
does it so mould and shape the story as in the cycles of Conchobor 
and the Knights of the Red Branch, of Fionn and the Fianna, and 
of Arthur and his Knights. The careers of any of the early Irish 
heroes, the single-handed raids of Get mac Magach or Conall 
Cearnach, above all the fortunes of Cuchullain, his hero's training 
in the Amazon-isle, his strife with Curoi mac Daire, his expeditions 
to fairy-land, his final holding of the ford against all the warriors of 
Erinn, breathe the same spirit of adventure for its own sake, mani- 
fest the same subordination of all else in the story to the one hero, 
that are such marked characteristics, of the Arthurian romance. 

Again, in the bands of picked braves who surround Conchobor 
or Fionn, in the rules by which they are governed, the trials 
which precede and determine admission into them, the duties and 
privileges which attach to them, we have, it seems to me, a far 
closer analogue to the knighthood of mediaeval romance than may 
be found either in the Peers of Carolingian saga or in the chosen 
warriors who throng the halls of Walhalla. 

In the present connection the part played by woman in Celtic 
tradition is perhaps of most import to us. In no respect is the 
difference more marked than in this between the twelfth century 
romances, whether French or German, and the earlier heroic 
literature of either nation. The absence of feminine interest 
in the earlier chansons de geste has often been noted. The case 
is different with Teutonic heroic literature, in which woman's 
role is always great, sometimes pre-eminently so. But a com- 
parison of the two strains of traditions, Celtic and Teutonic, one 
with the other, and again with the romances, may help to account 


for much that is otherwise inexplicable to us in the mediaeval 
presentment of the sex- feelings and sex-relations. 

The love of man, and immortal, or, if mortal, semi-divine 
maid is a "constant" of heroic tradition. Teuton and Celt 
have handled this theme, however, in a very different spirit. In 
the legends of the former the man plays the chief part ; he 
woos, sometimes he forces the fairy maiden to become the 
mistress of his hearth. As a rule, overmastered by the prowess 
and beauty of the hero, she is nothing loth. But sometimes, as 
does Brunhild, she feels the change a degradation and resents it. 
It is otherwise with the fairy mistresses of the Celtic hero ; 
they abide in their own place, and they allure or compel the 
mortal lover to resort to them. Connla and Bran and Oisin must 
all leave this earth and sail across ocean or lake before they can 
rejoin their lady love ; even Cuchullain, mightiest of all the heroes, 
is constrained, struggle as he may, to go and dwell with the 
fairy queen Fand, who has woed him. Throughout, the immortal 
mistress retains her superiority; when the mortal tires and 
returns to earth she remains, ever wise and fair, ready to welcome 
and enchant a new generation of heroes. She chooses whom 
she will, and is no man's slave ; herself she offers freely, but she 
abandons neither her liberty nor her divine nature. This type 
of womanhood, capricious, independent, severed from ordinary 
domestic life, is assuredly the original of the Vivians, the 
Orgueilleuses, the Ladies of the Fountain of the romances ; it is also 
one which must have commended itself to the knightly devotees 
of mediaeval romantic love. Their " dame d'amour " was. as a rule, 
another man's wife ; she raised in their minds no thought of home 
or child. In the tone of their feelings towards her, in the character 
of their intercourse with her, they were closer akin to Oisin and 
Neave, to Cuchullain and Fand, than to Siegfried and Brunhild, or to 
Roland and Aude. Even where the love-story passes wholly among 
mortals, the woman's role is more accentuated than in the Teutonic 
sagas. She is no mere lay-figure upon a fire-bound rock like 
Brunhild or Menglad, ready, when the destined hero appears, to 
fall straightway into his arms. Emer, the one maiden of Erinn 
whom Cuchullain condescends to woo, is eager to show herself in all 



things worthy of him ; she tests his wit as well as his courage, she 
makes him accept her conditions.* In the great tragic tale of 
ancient Ireland, the Fate of the Sons of Usnech, Deirdre born like 
Helen or Gudrun, to be a cause of strife among men, of sorrow and 
ruin to whomsoever she loves Deirdre takes her fate into her 
own hands, and woos Noisi with outspoken passionate frankness. 
The whole story is conceived and told in a far more " romantic " 
strain than is the case with parallel stories from Norse tradition, 
the loves of Helgi and Sigrun, or those of Sigurd and Brunhild- 
Gudrun. And if the lament of Deirdre over her slain love lacks 
the grandeur and the intensity with which the Norse heroines 
bewail their dead lords, it has, on the other hand, an intimate, 
a personal touch we should hardly have looked for in an eleventh 
century Irish epic.f 

Another link between the Celtic sagas and the romances is 

* The Tochmarc Emer, or the Wooing of Emer by Cuchullain, has been 
translated by Professor Kuno Meyer in the Archaeological Eeview, Nos. 1-4 
(London, 1888). The original text is found partly in the Leabhar na h-Uidhre, 
partly in later MSS. 

f The fate of the Sons of Usnech is known to us in two main redactions, 
one found in the Book of Leinster (compiled in the middle of the twelfth century 
from older MS.) printed by Windisch, Irische Texte (first series) pp. 67-82, and 
translated by M. Poinsignon, Bevue des Traditions Populaires, III, pp. 201-207. 
A text printed and translated by J. O'Flanagan (Transactions of the Gaelic 
Society of Dublin, 1808, pp. 146-177), agrees substantially with this. The 
second redaction has only been found in later MSS. Mr. Whitley Stokes has 
given text and translation from a fifteenth century MS. (Irische Texte, II. 2, pp. 
109-178), and O'Flanagan has edited a very similar version (loc. cit. pp. 16-135). 
This second version is fuller and more romantic ; in it alone is to be found 
Deirdre's lament on leaving Scotland, one of the earliest instances in post-classic 
literature of personal sympathy with Nature. 

But the earlier version, though it bear like so much else in the oldest Irish MS. 
obvious traces of abridgment and euhemerism, is also full of the most delicate 
romantic touches. Part of Deirdre's lament over the slain Noisi may be 
paraphrased thus : " Fair one, loved one, flower of beauty ; beloved, upright 
and strong ; beloved, noble and modest warrior. When we wandered through 
the woods of Ireland, sweet with thee was the night's sleep ! Fair one, blue- 
eyed, beloved of thy wife, lovely to me at the trysting place came thy clear 
voice through the woods. I cannot sleep ; half the night my spirit wanders 
far among throngs of men. I cannot eat or smile. Break not to-day my 
heart ; soon enough shall I lie within my grave. Strong are the waves of the 
sea, but stronger is sorrow, Conchobor." 


their treatment of the supernatural. Heroic-traditional literature 
is made up of mythical elements, of scenes, incidents, and formulas 
which have done service in that account of man's dealings with 
and conceptions of the visible world which we call mythology. 
All such literature derives ultimately from an early, wholly 
animistic stage of culture. Small marvel, then, if in the hero- 
tales of every race there figure wonder-working talismans and 
bespelled weapons, if almost every great saga has, as part of its 
dramatis personce, objects belonging to what we should now call 
the inanimate world. Upon these a species of life is conferred, 
most often by power of magic, but at times, it would seem, in 
virtue of the older conception which held all things to be endowed 
with like life. All heroic literatures do not, however, accentuate 
equally and similarly this magic side of their common stock. 
Celtic tradition is not only rich and varied beyond all others in 
this respect, it often thus secures its chief artistic effects. The 
talismans of Celtic romance, the fairy branch of Cormac, the 
Ga-bulg of Cuchullain, the sounding-hammer of Fionn, the 
treasures of the Boar Trwyth after which Prince Kilhwch sought, 
the glaives of light of the living folk-tale, have one and all a 
weird, fantastic, half-human existence, which haunts and thrills 
the imagination. No Celtic story-teller could have " mulled " the 
Nibelung-hoard as the poet of the Nibelungenlied has done. 
How different in this respect the twelfth century romances are 
from the earlier German or French sagas, how close to the Irish 
tales is apparent to whomsoever reads them with attention.* 

I do not for one moment imply that the romantic literature of 

* M. Eenan's article " De la Poesie des Eaces Celtiques " (Eevue des Deux 
Mondes, 1854, pp. 473-506) only came into my hands after the bulk of this chapter 
was printed, or I should hardly have dared to state in my own words those 
conclusions in which we agree. It may be useful to indicate those points in 
which I think this suggestive essay no longer represents the present state of 
knowledge. When M. Eenan wrote, the nature of popular tradition had 
been little investigated in France hence a tendency to attribute solely to the 
Celtic genius what is common to all popular tradition. Little or nothing was 
then known in France of early Irish history or literature hence the wild, 
primitive character of Celtic civilization is ignored. The " bardic " literature 
of Wales was still assigned wholesale to the age of its alleged authors hence 


the Middle Ages was what it was, wholly or even mainly in virtue 
of its Celtic affinities. That literature was the outcome of the 
age, and something akin to it would have sprung up had Celtic 
tradition remained unknown to the Continent. The conception of 
feudal knighthood as a favoured class, in which men of different 
nations met on a common footing; the conception of knightly love 
as something altogether dissasociated from domestic life, must in 
any case have led to the constitution of such a society as we find 
portrayed in the romances. What is claimed is that the spirit 
of the age, akin to the Celtic, recognised in Celtic tales the food 
it was hungering for. It transformed them to suit its own needs 
and ideas, but it carried out the transformation on the whole 
in essential agreement with tradition. In some cases a radical 
change is made ; such a one is presented to us in the Grail cycle. 

The legend thus started with the advantages of belonging to 
the popular literature of the time, and of association through 
Brons with Christian tradition. Its incidents were varied, and 
owing to the blending of diverse strains of story vague enough to 
be plastic. The formal development of the cycle has been traced 
in the earlier chapters of these studies ; that of its ideal concep- 
tions will be found to follow similar lines. Various ethical 
intentions can be distinguished, and there is not more difference 
between the versions in the conduct of the story than in the 
ideals they set forth. 

To some readers it may have seemed well nigh sacrilegious to 
trace that 

vanished Vase of Heaven 

That held like Christ's own Heart an Hin of Blood, 

to the magic vessels of pagan deities. In England the Grail- 

a false estimate of the relations between the profane and ecclesiastical -writings 
of the Welsh. Finally the three Mabinogion (The Lady of the Fountain; 
Geraint, Peredur), which correspond to poems of Chrestien's, are unhesitatingly 
accepted as their originals. The influence of Welsh fiction in determining the 
courtly and refined nature of mediaeval romance is, in consequence, greatly 
exaggerated. It is much to be wished that M. Eenan would give us another 
review of Celtic literature based on the work of the last thirty years. His lucid 
and sympathetic criticism would be most welcome in a department of study 
which has been rather too exclusively left to the specialist. 


legend is hardly known save in that form which it has assumed 
in the Queste. This French romance was one of those which 
Malory embodied in his rifacimento of the Arthurian cycle, and, 
thanks to Malory, it has become a portion of English speech and 
thought.* In our own days our greatest poet has expressed the 
quintessence of what is best and purest in the o]d romance in lines 
of j imperishable beauty. As we follow Sir Galahad by secret 
shrine and lonely mountain mere until 

Ah, blessed vision ! Blood of God, 
The spirit .beats her mortal bars, 
As down dark tides the glory slides, 
And star-like mingles with the stars. 

we are under a spell that may not be resisted. And yet of the 
two main paths which the legend has trodden that of Galahad is 
the least fruitful and the least beautiful. Compared with the 
Perceval Quest in its highest literary embodiment the Galahad 
Quest is false and antiquated on the ethical side, lifeless on the 
aesthetic side. 

As it first meets us in literature the legend has barely emerged 
from its pure and simple narrative stage. There is a temptation 
to exaggerate Chrestien's skill of conception when speculating 
how he would have finished his work, but we know enough, 
probably, to correctly gauge his intentions. It has been said 
he meant to portray the ideal knight in Perceval. As was 
formerly the wont of authors he presents his hero in a good light, 
and he may be credited with a perception of the opportunity 
afforded him by his subject for placing that hero in positions 
wherein a knight could best distinguish himself. In so far his 
work may be accepted as his picture of a worthy knight. But I 
can discover in it no scheme of a quest after the highest good to 

* Malory is a wonderful example of the power of style. He is a most 
unintelligent compiler. He frequently chooses out of the many versions of 
the legend, the longest, most wearisome, and least beautiful ; his own contribu- 
tions to the story are beneath contempt as a rule. But his language is exactly 
what it ought to be, and his has remained in consequence the classic English 
version of the Arthur story. 



be set forth by means of the incidents at his command. Perceval 
is brave as a matter of course, punctual in obeying the counsels 
of his mother and of his teachers, Gonemans and the hermit- 
uncle, unaffectedly repentant when he is convicted of having 
neglected his religious duties. But it cannot be said that the 
hermit's exhortations or the hero's repentance, confession, and 
absolution mark, or are intended to mark, a definite stage in a 
progress towards spiritual perfection. The explanation of the 
hero's silence as a consequence of his sin in leaving his mother, 
shows how little real thought has been bestowed upon the subject. 
This explanation, whether wholly Chrestien's, as I am tempted to 
think, or complacently reproduced from his model, gives the 
measure of his skill in constructing an allegory. Beyond 
insistence upon such points (the hero's docility) as were indicated 
to him by his model, or, as in the case of his religious opinions, 
were a matter of course in a work of the time, Chrestien gives 
Perceval no higher morality, no loftier aims than those of the day. 
The ideal of chastity, soon to become of such importance in the 
development of the legend, is nowhere set forth. Perceval, like 
Gawain, takes full advantage of what bonnes fortunes come in 
his way. And if the Quest connotes no spiritual ideal, still less 
does it one of temporal sovereignty. Had Chrestien finished his 
story he would have made Perceval heal the Maimed King and 
win his kingdom, but that kingdom would not have been a type 
of the highest earthly magnificence. We have seen reason to 
hold that Chrestien made one great change in the story as he 
found it in his model ; he assigns the Fisher- King's illness to a 
wound received in battle. This he did, I think, simply with a 
view to shortening the story by leaving out the whole of the 
Partinal episode. No mystical conception was floating in his 
mind. Yet, as we shall see, the shape which he gave to this 
incident strongly influenced some of the later versions, and gave 
the hint for the most philosophical .motif to be found in the 
whole cycle. 

The immediate continuators of Chrestien lift the legend to no 
higher level. I incline to think that Gautier, with less skill of 
narrative and far greater prolixity, yet trod closely in Chrestien's 


footsteps. In the love episodes he is as full of charm as the more 
celebrated poet. The second meeting of Perceval and Blanchefleur 
is told with that graceful laughing naivete of which French, 
literature of the period has the secret. But of a plan, an ani- 
mating conception even such slight traces as Chrestien had 
introduced into the story are lacking. Here, as in Chrestien, the 
mysterious talismans themselves in no way help forward the story. 
Chrestien certainly had the Christian signification of them in his 
mind, but makes no use of it. The Vessel of the Last Sapper, the 
Spear that pierced Christ's side might be any magic spear or vessel 
as far as he is concerned. The original Pagan essence is retained ; 
the name alone is changed. 

Thus far had the legend grown when it came into the hands of 
the author of the Queste. The subject matter had been partly 
shaped and trimmed by a master of narrative, the connection with 
Christian tradition had been somewhat accentuated. It was open 
to the author of the Queste to take the story as it stood, and to 
read into its incidents a deep symbolical meaning based upon the 
Christian character of the holy talismans. He preferred to act 
otherwise. He broke entirely with the traditional framework, 
dispossessed the original hero, and left not an incident of his 
model untouched. But his method of proceeding may be likened 
to a shuffle rather than to a transformation. The incidents re- 
appear in other connection, but do not reveal the author's plan any 
more than is the case in the Conte du Graal. The Christian 
character of the talismans is dwelt upon with almost wearisome 
iteration, the sacramental act supplies the matter of many and of 
the finest scenes, and yet the essence of the talismans is unchanged. 
The Holy Grail, the Cup of the Last Supper, the Sacramental 
.Chalice is still when it appears the magic food-producing vessel of 
the old Pagan sagas. What is the author's idea ? Undoubtedly 
to show that the attainment of the highest spiritual good is not 
a thing of this world ; only by renouncing every human desire, 
only by passing into a land intermediary between this earth and 
heaven, is the Quest achieved. In the story of the prosecution of 
that Quest some attempt may be traced at portraying the cardinal 
virtues and deadly sins by means of the adventures of the questers, 


and of the innumerable exhortations addressed to them. But no 
skill is shown in the conduct of this plan, which is carried out 
chiefly by the introduction of numerous allegorical scenes which 
are made a peg for lengthy dogmatic and moral expositions. In 
this respect the author compares unfavourably with Robert de 
Borron, who shapes his story in full accord with his conception of 
the Grail itself, a conception deriving directly from the symbolic 
Christian nature he attributed to it, and who makes even such 
unpromising incidents as that of the Magic Fisher subserve his 
guiding idea.* 

If the author's way of carrying out his conception cannot be 
praised, how does it stand with the conception itself ? The fact 
that the Quest is wholly disassociated from this earth at once 
indicates the standpoint of the romance. The first effect of the 
Quest's proclamation is to break up the Table Round, that type of 
the noblest human society of the day, and its final achievement 
brings cheer or strengthening to no living man. The successful 
questers alone in their unhuman realm have any joy of the Grail. 
The spirit in which they prosecute their quest is best exemplified 
by Sir Bors. When he comes to the magic tower and is tempted 
of the maidens, who threaten to cast themselves down and be 
dashed to pieces unless he yield them his love, he is sorry for 
them, but unmoved, thinking it better "they lose their souls than 
he his." So little had the Christian writer apprehended the 
signification of Christ's most profound saying. The character 
of the principal hero is in consonancy with this aim, wholly 
remote from the life of man on earth. A shadowy perfection at 
the outset, he remains a shadowy perfection throughout, a 
bloodless and unreal creature, as fit when he first appears upon 
the scene as when he quits it, to accomplish a quest, purposeless, 
inasmuch as it only removes him from a world in which he has 
neither part nor share. Such human interest as there is in the 

* See p, 112 for a brief summary of Borron's conception ; Sin the cause of 
want among the people ; the separation of the pure from the impure by means 
of the fish (symbol of Christ) ; punishment of the self-willed false disciple ; 
reward of Brons by charge of the Grail ; symbolising of the Trinity by the three 
tables and three Grail Keepers. 


story is supplied by Lancelot, who takes over many of the 
adventures of Perceval or Gawain in the Conte du Graal. In 
him we note contrition for past sin, strivings after a higher 
life with, which we can sympathise. In fine, such moral teaching 
as the Queste affords is given us rather by sinful Lancelot than 
by sinless Galahad. 

But the aversion to this world takes a stronger form in the 
Queste, and one which is the vital conception of the work, in the 
insistence upon the need for physical chastity. To rightly under- 
stand the author's position we must glance at the state of manners 
revealed by the romances, and in especial at the sex-relations as 
they were conceived of by the most refined and civilised men and 
women of the day. The French romances are, as a rule, too 
entirely narrative to enable a clear realisation of what these were. 
Wolfram, with his keener and more sympathetic eye for individual 
character Wolfram, who loves to analyse the sentiments and to 
depict the outward manifestations of feeling of his personages is 
our best guide here. The manners and customs of the day can be 
found in the French romances ; the feelings which underlie them 
must be sought for in the German poet. 

The marked feature of the sex-relations in the days of chivalry 
was the institution of minnedienst (love-service). The knight 
bound himself to serve a particular lady, matron or maid. To 
approve himself brave, hardy, daring, patient, and discreet was 
his part of the bargain, and when fulfilled the lady must fulfil 
hers and pay her servant. The relation must not for one moment 
be looked upon as platonic ; the last favours were in every case 
exacted, or rather were freely granted, as the lady, whether maid 
or wedded wife, thought it no wrong thus to reward her knight. 
It would have been " bad form " to deny payment when the 
service had been rendered, and the offender guilty of such conduct 
would have been scouted by her fellow-women as well as by all 
men. Nothing is more instructive in this connection than the 
delightfully told episode of Gawain and Orgueilleuse. The latter 
is unwedded, a great and noble lady, but she has already had 
several favoured lovers, as indeed she frankly tells Gawain. He 
proffers his service, which she hardly accepts, but heaps upon him 


all manner of indignity and insult, which he bears with the patient 
and resourceful courtesy, his characteristic in mediaeval romance. 
Whilst the time of probation lasts, no harsh word, no impatient 
gesture, escapes him. But when he has accomplished the feat of 
the Ford Perillous he feels that he has done enough, and taking 
his lady-love to task he lectures her, as a grave middle-aged man 
might some headstrong girl, upon the duties of a well-bred woman 
and upon the wrong she has done knighthood in his person. To 
point the moral he winds up, at mid-day in the open forest, with a 
proposition which the repentant scornful one can only parry by 
the naive remark, " Seldom she had found it warm in the embrace 
of a mail-clad arm." Not only was it the lady's duty to yield after 
a proper delay, but at times she might even make the first advances 
and be none the worse thought of. Blanchefleur comes to Per* 
ceval's bed with scarce an apology.* Orgueilleuse, overcome with 
admiration at the Red Knight's prowess, offers him her lovej 
True, she has doubts [as to the propriety of her conduct, but when 
she submits them to Gawain, the favoured lover for the time 
being, he unhesitatingly approves her Perceval's fame was such 
that had he accepted her proffered love she could have suffered 
naught in honour. 

Customs such as these, and a state of feelings such as they 
imply, are so remote from us, that it is difficult to realise them, 
particularly in view of the many false statements respecting the 
nature of chivalrous love which have obtained currency. But we 
must bear in mind that the age was pre-eminently one of individual 
prowess. The warlike virtues were all in all. That a man should 
be brave, hardy, and skilful in the use of his weapons was the 

* The greater delicacy of the Welsh tale has already heen noted. " To 
make him such a offer before I am wooed by him, that, truly, can I not do," 
says the counterpart of Blanchefleur in the Mabinogi. "Gro my sister and 
sleep," answers Peredur, "nor will I depart from thee until I do that which 
thou requirest." I cannot help looking upon the prominence which the 
Welsh story-teller has given to this scene as his protest against the strange and 
to him repulsive ways of knightly love. The older, mythic nature of Peredur 's 
beloved, who might woo without forfeiting womanly modesty, in virtue of her 
goddesshood, had died away ia the narrator's mind, the new ideal of courtly 
passion had not won acceptance from him. 



essential in a time when the single hero was almost of as much 
account as in the days of Achilles, Siegfried, or Cuchullain. That 
minnedienst tended to this end, as did other institutions of the day 
which we find equally blamable, is its historical excuse. Even 
then many felt its evils and perceived its anti-social character. 
Some, too, there were who saw how deeply it degraded the ideal 
of love. 

A protest against this morality was indeed desirable. Such a 
one the Queste does supply. But it is not enough to protest in a 
matter so profoundly affecting mankind as the moral ideas which 
govern the sex-relations. Not only must the protest be made 
in a right spirit, and on the right lines, but a truer and loftier 
ideal must be set up in place of the one attacked. In how far the 
Queste fulfils these conditions we shall see. Meanwhile, as a 
sample of the feelings with which many Englishmen have regarded 
it, and as an attempt to explain its historical and ethical raison 
d'etre, I cannot do better than quote Mr. Furnivall's enthusiastic 
words : " What is the lesson of it all ? Is the example of Galahad 
and his unwavering pursuit of the highest spiritual object set before 
him, nothing to us ? Is that of Perceval, pure and tempted, on 
the point of yielding, yet saved by the sight of the symbol of his 
Faith, to be of no avail to us ? Is the tale of Bohors, who has 
once sinned, but by a faithful life ... at last tasting spiritual 
food, and returning to devote his days to God and Good is this no 
lesson to us ? . . . On another point, too, this whole Arthur 
story may teach us. Monkish, to some extent, the exaltation of 
bodily chastity above almost every other earthly virtue is ; but the 
feeling is a true one ; it is founded on a deep reverence for woman, 
which is the most refining and one of the noblest sentiments of 
man's nature, one which no man can break through without suf- 
fering harm to his spiritual life." 

It would be hard to find a more striking instance of how the 
" editorial idol " may override perception and judgment. He 
who draws such lofty and noble teachings from the Queste del 
Saint Graal, must first bring them himself. He must read 
modern religion, modern morality into the mediaeval allegory, and 
on one point he must entirely falsify the mediaeval conception. 


Whether this is desirable is a question we can have no hesitation 
in deciding negatively. It is better to find out what the author 
really meant than to interpret his symbolism in our own fashion. 

The author of the Queste places the object and conditions of 
his mystic quest wholly outside the sphere of human action or 
interest ; in a similar spirit he insists, as an indispensable require- 
ment in the successful quester, upon a qualification necessarily 
denied to the vast majority of mankind. His work is a glorifica- 
tion of physical chastity. " Blessed are the pure in body for they 
shall inherit the Kingdom of Heaven," is the text upon which he 
preaches. In such a case everything depends upon the spirit of 
the preacher, and good intent is not enough to win praise. His 
conception, says Mr. Furnivall, is founded upon a deep reverence 
for woman. This is, indeed, such a precious thing that had the 
medieval ascetic really felt it we could have forgiven the 
stupidity which ignores all that constitutes the special dignity and 
pathos of womanhood. But he felt nothing of the kind. Woman 
is for him the means whereby sin came into the world, the arch 
stumbling-block, the tool the devil finds readiest to his hands when 
he would overcome man. Only in favour of the Virgin Mother, and 
of those who like her are vowed to mystical maidenhood, does the 
author pardon woman at all. One single instance will suffice to 
characterize the mediaeval standpoint. When the Quest of the 
Holy Grail was first proclaimed in Arthur's Court there was great 
commotion, and the ladies would fain have joined therein, "' car 
cascune dame ou damoiselle (qui) fust espousee ou amie, dist a 
son chiualer qu'ele yroit od lui en la queste." But a hermit comes 
forward to forbid this ; " No dame or damsel is to accompany her 
knight lest he fall into deadly sin." Wife or leman, it was all one 
for the author of the Queste ; woman could not but be an occasion 
for deadly sin, and the sin, though in the one case less in degree 
(and even this is uncertain), was the same in kind. Fully one-half 
of the romance is one long exemplification of the essential vileness 
of the sex-relation, worked out with the minute and ingenious 
nastiness of a Jesuit moral theologian. The author was of his 
time ; it was natural he should think and write as he did, and it 
would be uncritical to blame him for his degrading view of 

R 2 


womanhood or for his narrow and sickly view of life. But when 
we are bidden to seek example of him, it is well to state the facts 
as they are.* 

If his transformation of the story has been rudely effected 
without regard to its inherent possibilities, if the spirit of his ideal 
proves to be miserably ascetic and narrow, what then remains to 
the Queste, and how may we account for its popularity in its own day, 
and for the abiding influence which its version of the legend has 
exercised over posterity. Its literary qualities are at times great ; 
certain scenes, especially such as set forth the sacramental nature 
of the Grail, are touched with a mystical fervour which haunts the 
imagination. It has given some of the most picturesque features 
to this most picturesque of legends. But I see in the idea of the 
mystic quest proclaimed to and shared in by the whole Table 
Round the real secret of the writer's success. This has struck 
the imagination of so many generations and given the Queste an 
undeserved fame. In truth the conception of Arthur's court, 
laying aside ordinary cares and joys, given wholly up to one over- 
mastering spiritual aim, is a noble one. It is, I think, only in a 
slight degree the outcome of definite thought and intent but 
was dictated to the writer by the form into which he had recast 

* The perplexities which beset the modern reader of the Queste are 
reflected in the Laureate's retelling of the legend. Nowhere else in the Idylls 
has he departed so widely from his model. Much of the incident is due to him, 
and replaces with advantage the nauseous disquisitions upon chastity which occupy 
so large a space in the Queste. The artist's instinct, rather than the scholar's 
respect for the oldest form of the story, led him to practically restore Perceval 
to his rightful place as hero of the quest. His fortunes we can follow with 
an interest that passing shadow, Galahad, wholly fails to evoke. Nor, as may 
easily be seen, is the fundamental conception of the twelfth century romance to 
the Laureate's taste. Arthur is his ideal of manhood, and Arthur's energies 
are practical and human in aim and in execution. What the " blameless king " 
speaks when he first learns of the quest represents, we may guess, the author's 
real attitude towards the whole fantastic business. 

It is much to be regretted by all lovers of English poetry that Hawker's Quest 
of the Sangraal was never completed. The first and only chant is a magnificent 
fragmen f ; with the exception of the Laureate's Sir Galahad, the finest piece of 
pure literature in the cycle. Hawker, alone, perhaps of moderns, could have kept 
the mediaeval tone and spirit, and yet brought the Quest into contact with the 
needs and ideas of to-day. 


the story. Galahad had supplanted Perceval, but the latter 
could not be suppressed entirely. The achievement of the quest 
involved the passing away out of this world of the chief heroes, 
hence a third less perfect one is joined to them to bring back 
tidings to earth of the marvels he had witnessed. Lancelot, to 
whom are assigned so many of Perceval's adventures, cannot be 
denied a share in the quest ; it is the same with Gawain, whose 
character in the older romance fits him, moreover, excellently for 
the role of "dreadful example." By this time the Arthurian legend 
was fully grown, and the mention of these Knights called up the 
names of others with whom they were invariably connected by 
the romance writers. Well nigh every hero of importance was 
thus drawn into the magic circle, and the mystic Quest assumed, 
almost inevitably, the shape it did. 

This conception, to which, if I am right, the author of the 
Queste was led half unconsciously, seems to us the most admirable 
thing in his work. It was, however, his ideal of virginity 
which struck the idea of his contemporaries, and which left 
its mark upon after versions. An age with such a gross ideal 
of love may have needed an equally gross ideal of purity. 
Physical chastity plays henceforth the leading part in the moral 
development of the cycle. With Robert de Borron it is the sin 
of the flesh which brings down upon the Grail host the wrath of 
Heaven, and necessitates the display of the Grail's wondrous 
power. Here may be noted the struggle of the new conception 
with the older form of the story. Alain, the virgin knight, would 
rather be flayed than marry, and yet he does marry in obedience 
to the original model. Robert is consistent in all that relates to 
the symbolism of the Grail, but in other respects, as we have 
already seen, he is easily thrown off his guard. In the Didot- 
Perceval, written as a sequel to Robert's poem, the same struggle 
between old and new continues, and the reconciling spirit goes 
to work in naive and unskilful style. The incidents of the Conte 
du Graal are kept, although they accord but ill with the hero's 
ascetic spirit. In the portion of the Conte du Graal itself which 
goes under Manessier's name, along with adventures taken direct 
from Chrestien's model, and far less Christianised than in the 


earlier poet's work, many occur which are simply transferred 
from the Queste. No attempt is made at reconciling these 
jarring elements, and the effect of the contrast is at times almost 
comic. In two of the later romances of the cycle the fusion has 
been more complete, and the result is, in consequence, more 
interesting. The prose Perceval le Gallois keeps the original 
hero of the Quest as far as name and kinship are concerned, but 
it gives him the aggressive virginity and the proselytising zeal of 
Galahad. Gerbert's finish to the Conte du Graal is, perhaps, the 
strangest outcome of the double set of influences to which the 
later writers were exposed. Without doubt his model differed 
from the version used by Gautier and Manessier. It is more 
Celtic in tone, and is curiously akin to the hypothetical lost source 
of Wolfram von Eschenbach. The hero's absence from his lady- 
love is insisted upon, and the need of returning to her before he 
can find peace. The genuineness of this feature admits of little 
doubt. Many folk-tales tell of the severance of lover and beloved, 
and of their toilful wanderings until they meet again ; such a tale 
easily lends itself to the idea that separation is caused by guilt, 
and that, whilst severed, one or other lover must suffer misfortune. 
Often, as in the case of Diarmaid and the Daughter of King 
Under the Waves {supra, p. 194), definite mention is made of the 
guilt, as a rule an infringed taboo. Such an incident could 
scarcely fail to assume the ethical shape Gerbert has given it. 
Thus he had only to listen to his model, to take his incidents as 
he found them, and he had the matter for a moral conception 
wholly in harmony with them. The chastity ideal has been too 
strong for him. His lovers do come together, but only to 
exemplify the virtue of continence in the repulsive story of their 
bridal night. After Gerbert the cycle lengthens, but does not 
develop. The Queste retains its supremacy, and through Malory 
its dominant conception entered deeply into the consciousness of 
the English race. 

How far the author of the Queste must be credited with the 
new ideal he brought into the legend is worth enquiry. Like so 
much else therein, it may have its roots in the folk and hero tales 
which underlie the romances. The Castle of Talismans visited 


by Perceval is the Land of Shades. In popular tradition the 
incident takes the form of entry into the hollow hill-side where 
the fairy king holds his court and hoards untold riches. Poverty 
and simplicity are the frequent qualifications of the successful 
quester ; oftener still some mystic birthright, the being a Sunday's 
child for instance, or a seventh son ; or again freedom from sin is 
required, and, perhaps, most frequently maidenhood.* The stress 
which so many peoples lay upon virginity in the holy prophetic 
maidens, who can transport themselves into the otherworld and 
bring thence the commands of the god, may be noted in the same 
connection. No Celtic tale I have examined with a view to 
throwing light upon the Grail romances insists upon this idea, but 
some version, now lost, may possibly have done so. Celtic 
tradition gave the romance writers of the Middle Ages material 
and form for the picture of human love ; it may also have given 
them a hint of the opposing ideal of chastity .f 

All this time it should be noted that no real progress is made 
in the symbolical machinery of the legend. The Holy Grail 
becomes superlatively sacrosanct, but it .retains its pristine pagan 
essence, even in the only version, the Grand St. Graal, which knew 
of Borron and of his mystical conception. 

Such, then, had been the growth of the legend in one direction. 
The original incidents were either transformed, mutilated, or, 
where they kept their first shape, underwent no ethical deepening 
or widening. The talismans themselves had been transferred 
from Celtic to Christian mythology, but their fate was still bound 

* Cf. Grimm, Deutsche Mythologie, II, 811, and his references. 

f The ideas held bv many peoples in a primitive stage of culture respecting 
virginity are worthy careful study. Some physiological basis may be found for 
them in the phenomena of hysteria, which must necessarily have appeared to 
such peoples evidences of divine or demoniac possession, and at that stage are 
hardly likely to have been met with save among unmarried women. In the 
French witch trials these phenomena are often presented by nuns, in whose case 
they were probably the outcome of a life at once celibate and inactive. On the 
other hand the persons accused of witchcraft were as a rule of the most 
abandoned character, and it is a, morally speaking, degraded class which has 
furnished Professor Charcot and his pupils with the subjects in whom they have 
identified all the phenomena that confront the student of witch trials. 


up with the otherworld. He who would seek them must turn his 
back upon this earth from which the Palace Spiritual and the 
City of Sarras were even more remote than Avalon or Tir-na n-Og. 
Was no other course open ? Could not framework and incidents 
of the Celtic tales be retained, and yet, raised to a loftier, wider 
level, become a fit vehicle for philosophic thought and moral 
exhortation ? One side of popular tradition figured the hero as 
wresting the talismans from the otherworld powers for the benefit 
of his fellow men. Could not this form of the myth be made to 
yield a human, practical conception of the Quest and Winning of 
the Holy Grail ? 

We are luckily not reduced to conjecture in this matter. A 
work largely fulfilling these hypothetical requirements exists in 
the Parzival of Wolfram von Eschenbach. On the whole it is the 
most interesting individual work of modern European literature 
prior to the Divina Commedia, and its author has a better claim 
than any other mediaeval poet to be called a man of genius. He 
must, of course, be measured by the standard of his time. It 
would be useless to expect from, him that homogeneity of narrative, 
that artistic proportion of style first met with 150 years later in 
Italy, and which from Italy passed into all European literatures 
Compared with the unknown poets who gave their present shape 
to the Mbelungenlied or to the Chanson de Roland he is an 
individual writer, but he is far from deserving this epithet even in 
the sense that Chaucer deserves it. His subject dominates him. 
Even when his philosophic mind is conceiving it under a new 
aspect he anxiously holds to the traditional form. Hence great in- 
consistencies in his treatment of the theme, hence, too, the frequent 
difficulty in interpreting his meaning, the frequent doubt as to how 
far the interpretation is correct. Here, as in the discussion 
respecting the origines of the Grail legend, resort must often be 
had to conjecture, and any solution of the fascinating problems 
involved is necessarily and largely subjective. 

Wolfram's relation to his predecessors must be taken into 
account in estimating the value of the Parzival. The earlier 
portion of his work diffeis entirely, as we have seen, from any 
existing French romance ; so does the finish in so far as it agrees 


with the opening. The greater part of the story is closely parallel 
to Chrestien ; there are points of contact, peculiar to these two 
writers, with Gerbert. Little invention, properly so called, of 
incident can be traced in the Parzival. The part common to it 
and Chrestien is incomparably fuller and more interesting in the 
German poet, but the main outlines are the same. Wolfram has, 
however, been at some pains to let us know what was his concep- 
tion of the legend. That much is allowed to remain at variance 
therewith is a clear proof of his timidity of invention. 

Doubt, he says, is the most potent corrupter of the soul. Whoso 
gives himself over to uiifaith and unsteadfastness treadeth in 
truth the downward path. God Himself is very faithfulness. 
Strife against Him, doubt of Him, is the highest sin. But 
humility and repentance may expiate it, and he who thus repents 
may be chosen by God for the Grail Kingship, the summit of 
earthly holiness. Peace of soul and all earthly power are the 
chosen one's ; alone, unlawful desire and the company of sinners 
are denied him by the Grail. 

How is this leading conception worked out ? The framework 
and the march of incidents are the same as in the Conte du Graal. 
One capital change at once, however, lifts the story to a higher 
level. The Fisher King suffers from a wound received in the 
cause of unlawful love, in disobedience to those heavenly com- 
mands which govern the Grail community. The healing question 
can be put only by one worthy to take up the high office Amfortas 
has dishonoured, in virtue of having passed through the strife of 
doubt, and become reconciled to God by repentance and humble 
trust. If Parzival neglected to put the question on his first 
arrival at the Grail Castle, it was that in the conceit of youth 
he fancied all wisdom was his. Childish insistence upon his 
mother's counsels had brought down reproof upon him ; he had 
learnt the world's wisdom from Gurnemanz, he had shown himself 
in defence of Conduiramur a valiant knight, worthy of power and 
woman's love. When brought into contact with the torturing 
sorrow of Amfortas, he is too full of himself, of his teacher's wisdom, 
to rightly use the opportunity. 

The profound significance of the question which at once releases 


the sinner, and announces the one way in which the sin may be 
cancelled, namely, by the coming of a worthier successor, is due, 
if we may credit Birch-Hirschfeld, to an accident. Wolfram only 
knew Chrestien. The latter never explains the real nature of the 
Grail, and the German poet's knowledge of French was too slight 
to put him on the right track. The question, " Whom serve they 
with the Grail?" which he found in Chrestien, was necessarily 
meaningless to him, and he replaced it by his, " Uncle, what is it 
tortures thee?" The change may be the result of accident as is 
so much else in this marvellous legend, but it required a man of 
genius to turn the accident to such account. It is the insistence 
upon charity as the herald and token of spiritual perfection that 
makes the grandeur of Wolfram's poem, and raises it so immeasure- 
ably above the Queste. 

The same human spirit is visible in the delineation of the 
Grail Kingship as the type of the highest good. Wolfram's 
theology is distinctively antinomian no man may win the Grail 
in his own strength; it choseth whom "it will and has been 
claimed on the one hand* as a reflex of orthodox Catholic belief, 
on the other as a herald of the Lutheran doctrine of grace. f 
Theological experts may be left to fight out this question among 
themselves. Apart from this, Wolfram has a practical sense of 
the value of human effort. With him the Quest is not to be 
achieved by utter isolation from this earth and its struggles. The 
chief function of the Grail Kingdom is to supply an abiding type 
of a divinely ordered Society ; it also trains up leaders for those 
communities which lack them. It is a civilising power as well as 
a Palace Spiritual. 

In the relation of man to Heaven, Wolfram, whilst fully ac- 
cepting the doctrines of his age, appeals to the modern spirit with 
far greater power and directness than the Queste. In the other 
great question of the legend, the relation of man to woman, he is 
likewise nearer to us, although it must be confessed that he builds 
better than he knows. To the love ideal of his day, based wholly 
upon passion and vanity and severed from all family feeling, he 

* Domanig, Parzival-Studien, I, II, 1878-80. 
f San-Marte, Parzival-Studien, I-III, 1861-63. 



opposes the wedded love of Parzival and Conduiramur. The 
hero's recollection of the mother of his children is the one saving 
influence throughout the years of doubt and discouragement which 
follow Kundrie's reproaches. Whilst still staggering under this 
blow, so cruelly undeserved as it seems to him, he can wish his 
friend and comrade, Gawain, a woman chaste and good, whom he 
may love and who shall be his guardian angel. The. thought of 
Conduiramur holds him aloof from the offered love of Orgeluse. 
In his last and bitterest fight, with his unknown brother, when it 
had nigh gone with him to his death, he recalls her and renews 
the combat with fresh strength. She it is for whom he wins 
the highest earthly crown, of which her pure, womanly heart 
makes her worthy. Reunion with her and with his children is 
Parzival's first taste of the joy that is henceforth to be his. 

Passages may easily be multiplied that tally ill with the ideas of 
the poem as here briefly set forth. But the existence of these 
ideas is patent to the unprejudiced reader. Despite its many 
shortcomings, the poem which contains them is the noblest and 
most human outcome of that mingled strain of Celtic fancy and 
Christian symbolism whose history we have traced.* 

In Wolfram, equally with the majority of the French romance 
writers, there is little consistency in the formal use of the mystic 
talismans. Be the reason what it may, Wolfram certainly never 
thought of associating the Grail with the Last Supper. But its 
religious character is, at times, as marked with him as with 
Robert de Borron or the author of the Queste. It is the actual 
vehicle of the Deity's commands ; it restrains from sin ; it suffers 
no unchaste servant ; it may be seen of no heathen ; the 

* Some readers may be anxious to read Wolfram's work to whom twelfth- 
century German would offer great difficulties. A few words on the translation 
into modern German may, therefore, not be out of place. San-Marte's original 
translation (1839-41) is full of gross blunders and mistranslations, and, what is 
worse, of passages foisted into the text to support the translator's own interpreta- 
tion of the poem as a whole. Simrock's, which followed, is extremely close, but 
difficult and unpleasing. San Marte's second edition, corrected from Simrock, 
is a great advance upon the first ; but even here the translator has too often 
allowed his own gloss to replace Wolfram's statement. A thoroughly faithful 
yet pleasing rendering is a desideratum. 


simple beholding of it preserves men from death. This last 
characteristic would be thought in modern times a sufficient 
tribute to the original nature of the old pagan cauldron of increase 
and rejuvenescence. But Wolfram was of his time, and followed 
his models faithfully. Along with the lofty spiritual attributes of 
his Grail, he pictures in drastic fashion its food-dispensing powers. 
The mystic stone, fallen from Heaven, itself, renewed each Good 
Friday by direct action of the Spirit, becomes all at once a mere 
victual producing machine. We can see how little Wolfram 
liked this feature of his model, and how he felt the contrast between 
it and his own more spiritual conception. But here, as elsewhere 
in the poem, he allowed much to stand against which his better 
judgment protested. His own share in the development of the 
legend must be gauged by what is distinctively his, not by what he 
has in common with others. Judged thus, he must be said to 
have developed the Christian symbolic side of the legend as much 
as the human philosophic side. If in Robert de Borron the Grail 
touches its highest symbolic level through its identification with 
the body of the dead and risen Lord, we can trace in Wolfram the 
germ of that approximation of the Grail- Quester to the earthly 
career of the Saviour which Wagner was to develop more than 
600 years later.* 

What influence Wolfram's poem, with its practical, human 
enthusiasm, its true and noble sexual morality, might have had 
on English literature is an interesting speculation. It would 
have appealed, one would think, to our race with its utilitarian 
ethical instinct, with its Ipfty ideal of wedded love. The true man, 
Parzival, should, in the fitness of things, be the English hero of the 
Quest, rather than the visionary ascetic Galahad. Mediaeval 
England was dominated by France and knew nothing of Germany, 

* J. Yan Santen, Zur Beurtkeilung Wolfram von Eschenbach, Wesel, 1882, 
has attacked Wolfram for his acceptance of the morality of the day, and has, on 
that ground, denied him any ethical or philosophic merit. The pamphlet is 
useful for its references, but otherwise worthless. The fact that Wolfram does 
accept Minnedienst only gives greater value to his picture of a nobler and purer 
ideal of lore, whilst to refuse recognition of his other qualities on this account is 
much as who should deny Dante's claim to be regarded as a teacher and thinker 
because of his acceptance of the hideous mediaeval hell. 



and when in the late fifteenth and sixteenth centuries we can 
trace German influence on English thought and writ, taste had 
changed, and the Parzival was well-nigh forgotten in its own land. 
It remained so almost until our own days. The Quest after 
Perfection still haunted the German mind, but it was conceived 
of on altogether different lines from those of the twelfth century 
poet. The nation of scholars pictured the qu ester as a student, 
not as a knight. When it took shape in the dreary period of 
Protestant scholasticism the quest is wholly cursed. Faust's 
pursuit of knowledge is unlawful, a rebellion against God, which 
dooms him irrevocably. Not until Goethe's day is the full 
significance of the legend perceived, is the theme widened to 
embrace the totality of human striving. Thus the last glimpse 
we have of Faust is of one devoted to the service of man ; the last 
words of the poem are a recognition of the divine element in the 
love of man and woman.* 

In Germany, as in England, the old legend has appealed afresh 
to poets and thinkers, and then, as was natural, they turned to 
Germany's greatest medieval poet. Wagner's Parsifal would, in any 
case, be interesting as an expression of one of the strongest dramatic 
geniuses of the century. Considered purely as a work of literature, 
apart from the music, it has rare beauty and profound significance. 
The essentially dramatic bent of Wagner's mind, the stage 
destination of the poem, must be borne in mind when considering 
it. Wolfram's conception youthful folly and inexperience 
chastised by reproof, followed by doubt and strife, cancelled by 
the faithful steadfastness of the full-grown man is obviously 
unsuited for dramatic purposes. At no one point of Wolfram's 
poem do we find that clash of motives and of characters which 
the stage requires. In building up his conception Wagner has 
utilised every hint of his predecessor with wonderful ingenuity. 
Klinschor, the magician, becomes with him the active opponent of 
the Grail King, Amfortas, from whom he has wrested the holy 

* In the Geheimnisse Goethe shows some slight trace of the Parzival legend, 
and the words in which the teaching of the poem are summed up: " Von der 
Gewalt, die alle Wesen bindet, Befreit der Mensch sich der sich uberwindet," 
maybe looked upon as an eighteenth century rendering of Wolfram's conception. 


spear by the aid of Kundry's unholy beauty. Kundry is Wagner's 
great contribution to the legend. She is the Herodias whom 
Christ for her laughter doomed to wander till He come again. 
Subject to the powers of evil, she must tempt and lure to 
their destruction the Grail warriors. And yet she would find 
release and salvation could a man resist her love spell.* She 
knows this. The scene between the unwilling temptress, whose 
success would but doom her afresh, and the virgin Parsifal thus 
becomes tragic in the extreme. How does this affect Amfortas 
and the Grail? In this way. Parsifal is the "pure fool," 
knowing nought of sin or suffering. It had been foretold of him 
he should become "wise by fellow- suffering," and so it proves. 
The overmastering rush of desire unseals his eyes, clears his 
mind. Heart-wounded by the shaft of passion, he feels Amfortas' 
torture thrill through him. The pain of the physical wound is 
his, but far more, the agony of the sinner who has been unworthy 
his high trust, and who, soiled by carnal sin, must yet daily come 
in contact with the Grail, symbol of the highest purity and 
holiness. The strength which comes of the new-born knowledge 
enables him to resist sensual longing, and thereby to release both 
Kundry and Amfortas. 

In the latest version of the Perceval Quest, as in the Galahad 
Quest, the ideal of chastity is thus paramount. This result is due 
to Wagner's dramatic treatment of the theme. The conception 
that knowledge of sin and fellowship in suffering are requisite to 
enable man to resist temptation, and that thus alone does he 
acquire the needful strength to assist his fellows, however true 
and profound, can obviously only be worked out on the stage 

* We may here note an admirable example of the inevitable, spontaneous 
character of the growth of certain conceptions, especially of such as have been 
partly shaped by the folk-mind. There is nothing in Wolfram or in the French 
romances to show that the fortunes of the loathly damsel (Wagner's Kundry) 
are in any way bound up with the success of the Quest. But we have seen that 
the Celtic folk -tales represent the loathly damsel as the real protagonist of the 
story. She cannot be freed unless the hero do his task. Precisely the same 
situation as in Wagner, who was thus led back to the primitive donnee, although 
he can only have known intermediary stages in which its signification had been 
Quite lost. 


through the medium of one form of sin and suffering. The long 
psychological process of Wolfram's poem, the slow growth of the 
unthinking youth into the steadfast, faithful man, is replaced by a 
mystic, transcendental conversion. From out a world of hnman 
endeavour, human motive, we have stepped into one wholly ascetic 
and symbolical. The love of man for woman only appears in the 
guise of forbidden desire ; the aims and needs of this world are 
not even thought of. Every incident has been remoulded in 
accord with Christian tradition. Wagner fully accepts the sacra- 
mental nature of the Grail, and the Grail feast is with him a 
faithful reproduction of the Last Supper. Holiness and purity 
are the essence of the Grail, which is cleared from every taint of its 
pagan origin. And whilst Wagner, following the French models, 
identifies the Grail with the most sacred object of Christian 
worship, he also, developing hints of Wolfram's, reshapes the career 
of his Grail-seeker in accord with that of Christ. Parsifal, the 
releaser of sin-stricken Kundry, of sin-stricken Amfortas Parsifal, 
the restorer of peace and holiness to the Grail Kingdom becomes 
a symbol of the Saviour. 

In the reasoned, artistic growth of the legend, the plastic, living 
element is that supplied by Christian tradition. From the moment 
that the Celtic lord of the underworld is identified with the evan- 
gelist of Britain we see the older complex of tales acquire con- 
sistency, life, and meaning. Even where the direct influence of the 
intruding element is slightest, as in the Conte du Graal, we can 
still perceive that it is responsible for the germs of after develop- 
ment. Sometimes violently and unintelligently, sometimes with a 
keen feeling for the possibilities of the original romance, sometimes 
with the boldest introduction of new matter, sometimes with 
slavish adherence to pre-Christian conceptions, the transforma- 
tion of the Celtic tales goes on. The cauldron of increase and 
renovation, the glaive of light, the magic fish, the visit to the 
otherworld, all are gradually metamorphosed until at last the 
talisman of the Irish gods becomes the symbol of the risen Lord, 
its seeker a type of Christ in His divinest attributes. 

The ethical teaching of the legend becomes also purely Christian 
as the Middle Ages conceived Christianity. Renunciation of the 


world and of the flesh is its key-note. Once only in Wolfram do 
we find an ideal human in its essence, though dogmatic in form ; 
the path thus opened is not trodden further, and the legend remains 
as a whole, on the moral side, a monument of Christian asceticism. 

We have seen reason to surmise that the folk-tales which 
underlie the romances themselves gave the hint for the most 
characteristic manifestation of this ascetic ideal. It is worth 
enquiry if these tales have developed themselves independently 
from the Christianised legend, and if such development shows any 
trace of ethical conceptions comparable with those of the legend. 
Can we gather from the tales as fashioned by the folk teaching 
similar to that of the preachers, philosophers, and artists by whom 
the legend has been shaped ? Few enquiries can be more interest- 
ing than one which traces such a conception as the Quest after 
the highest good as pictured by the rudest and most primitive 
members of the race. 

Many of the tales which formed a part of the (hypothetical) 
Welsh original of the earliest Grail romances have been shown 
to come under the Aryan Expulsion and Return Formula {supra, 
Ch. VI). Among most races this formula has connected itself 
with the national heroes, and has given rise to hero-tales in which 
the historical element outweighs the ethical. Sometimes, as in the 
tale of Perseus, the incidents are so related as to bring out an 
ethical motif; Perseus is certainly thought of as avenging his 
mother's undeserved wrongs. I cannot trace anything of the 
kind among the Celts. All the incidents of the formula in Celtic 
tradition which I know of are purely historical in character. This 
element of the old Saga-mass thus yields nothing for the present 
enquiry. Others are more fruitful. Perceval is akin not only to 
Fionn, but also to the Great Fool. The Lay of the Great Fool was 
found to tally closely with adventures in the Mabinogi and in the 
Conte du Graal (supra, Ch. VI). It also sets forth a moral con- 
ception that admits of profitable comparison with that of the Grail 

Ultimately, the Lay is, I have little doubt, one of the many 
forms in which a mortal's visit to the otherworld was related. 
Wandering into the Glen of Glamour, the hero and his love, en- 


counter a magician; the hero drinks of the proffered cup, despite 
his love's remonstrances, and forthwith loses his two legs. This is 
obviously a form of the widely-spread myth which forbids the 
visitant to the otherworld to partake of aught there under penalty 
of never returning to earth. But this mythical motif has taken 
an ethical shape in popular fancy. According to Kennedy's version, 
it is the hero's excess in draining the cup to the dregs which calls 
for punishment. This change is of the same nature as that noted 
with regard to a similar incident in the Grail romances. There, 
the old mythic taboo of sleeping or speaking in the otherworld 
called at last for an explanation, and found one in Wolfram's 
philosophic conception. The parallel does not end here. Perceval 
may retrieve his fault, and so may the Great Fool ; Wolfram 
makes his hero win salvation by steadfast faith, the folk- tale makes 
its hero in the face of every form of temptation a pattern of stead- 
fast loyalty to the absent friend and to the pledged word. It may, 
or may not, be considered to the advantage of the folk-tale that, 
unlike the mediaeval romance, it deals neither in mysticism nor in 
asceticism. The sin and atonement of the Great Fool are such as 
the popular mind can grasp ; he is an example of human weakness 
and human strength. The woman he loves is no temptress, no 
representative of the evil principle on the contrary, she is ever by 
his side to counsel and to cheer him. 

When it is remembered that the two off-shoots, romantic- 
legendary and popular, from the one traditional stem have grown 
up in perfect independence of each other, the kinship of moral 
idea is startling. The folk-lorist has often cause to wonder at the 
spontaneous flower-like character of the object of his study ; folk- 
tradition seems to obey fixed laws of growth and to be no product 
of man's free thought and speech. The few partisans of the 
theory that folk-tradition is only a later and weakened echo of the 
higher culture of the race are invited to study. the present case. 
A Celtic tale, after supplying an important element to the Christian- 
ised Grail legend, has gone on its way entirely unaffected by the 
new shape which that legend assumed, and yet it has worked out 
a moral conception of fundamental likeness to one set forth in the 
legend. It would be difficult to find a more perfect instance of the 


spontaneous, evolutional character of tradition contended for by 
what, in default of a better name, must be called the anthropo- 
logical school of folk-lorists. 

We mast quit Celtic ground to find another example of an ele- 
ment in the originals of the Grail romances, embodying a popular 
ethical idea. This instance is such an interesting dne that I cannot 
pass it by in silence. As was shown in Chapter VII, one of the 
many forms of the hero's visit to the otherworld has for object the 
release of maidens held captive by an evil power. A formal 
connection was established between this section of the romance 
and the folk-tale of the Sleeping Beauty. As a whole, too, this 
tale admits of comparison with the legend. Its origin is mythic 
without a doubt. Whether it be regarded as a day or as a year 
myth, as the rescue of the dawn from night, or of the incarnate 
spring from the bonds of winter, it equally pictures a victory of 
the lord of light and heat and life over the powers of darkness, 
cold, and death. With admirable fidelity folk-tradition has pre- 
served the myth, so that its true nature can be recognised without 
fail. It would be wrong, though, to conclude that retention of the 
mythic framework implied any recognition of its mythic character 
on^the part of those who told or listened to the story. Some in- 
vestigators, indeed, hold it idle to consider it otherwise than as a 
tale told merely for amusement. But a story, to live, must appeal 
to moral as well as to aesthetic emotions. In the folk-mind this 
story sets forth, dimly though it may be, that search for the highest 
human felicity which is likewise a theme of the Grail romances. 
What better picture of this quest could be found than the old 
mythic symbol of the awakening of life and increase beneath the 
kiss of the sun-god. The hero of the folk-tale makes his way through 
the briars and tangle of the forest that he may restore to the deserted 
castle life and plenty ; so much has the tale retained of the original 
mythic signification. As regards the quester himself, the maiden he 
thus woos is his reward and the noblest prize earth has to offer him. 
Where the romance writers made power, or riches, or learning, 
or personal salvation the goal of man's effort, the folk-tale bids him 
seek happiness in the common human affections. 

Such, all too briefly sketched, has been the fate and story of these 


tales, first shaped in a period of culture wellnigh pre-historic, 
gifted by reason of their Celtic setting with a charm that com- 
mended them to the romantic spirit of the middle ages, and made 
them fit vehicles for the embodiment of mediaeval ideas. Quick- 
ened by Christian symbolism they came to express and typify 
the noblest and the most mystic longings of man. The legend, as 
the poets and thinkers of the twelfth century fashioned it, has still 
a lesson and a meaning for us. It may be likened to one of the 
divine maidens of Irish tradition. She lives across the western 
sea. Ever and again heroes, filled with mysterious yearning for 
the truth and beauty of the infinite and undying, make sail to 
join her if they may. They pass away and others succeed them, 
but she remains ever young and fair. So long as the thirst of 
man for the ideal endures, her spell will not be weakened, her 
charm will not be lessened. But each generation works out this 
Quest in its own spirit. This much may be predicted with some 
confidence : henceforth, whosoever would do full justice to the 
legend must take pattern by Wolfram von Eschenbach rather than 
by any of his rivals ; he must deal with human needs and human 
longings; his ideal must be the widening of human good and 
human joy. Above all, he must give reverent yet full expression 
to all the aspirations, all the energies of man and of woman. 


s 2 




THE various arguments for and against the use of any other French 
source than Chrestien by Wolfram have been clearly summed up by 
G. Botticher, Die Wolfram Literatur seit Lachmann, Berlin, 1880. The 
chief representative of the negative opinion is Birch-Hirschfeld, who first 
gives, Chapter VIII. of his work, a useful collection of passages relating to 
the Grail, the Castle, and the Quest, from both authors. His chief argu- 
ment is this : The Grail in all the romances except in Wolfram is a cup or 
vessel, but in Wolfram a stone, a peculiarity only to be explained by 
Wolfram's ignorance of any source than Chrestien, and by the fact that the 
latter, in accordance with his usual practice of leaving objects and persons 
in as mysterious an atmosphere as possible, nowhere gives a clear descrip- 
tion of the Grail. He undoubtedly would have done so if he had finished 
his work. Such indications as he gave led Wolfram, who did not understand 
the word Graal, to think it was a stone. It is inconceivable that Kyot, if 
such a personage existed, should have so far departed from all other versions 
as not to picture the Grail as a vessel, inconceivable, again, that his account 
of it should have been just as vague as Chrestien's, that he should have 
afforded Wolfram no hint of the real nature of the object. In Chrestien 
Perceval's question refers to the Grail, but Wolfram, missing the signifi- 
cance of the holy vessel owing to the meagreness of the information 
respecting it given to him by Chrestien, was compelled to transform the 
whole incident, and to refer it solely to the sufferings of the wounded 
King. Again, Chrestien meant to utilise the sword, and to bring Gawain 
to the Grail Castle ; but his unfinished work did not carry out his inten- 
tion, and in Wolfram Gawain also fails to come to the Grail Castle ; the 
sword is passed over in silence in the latter part of the poem. Simrock, 
jealous for the credit of Wolfram, claimed for him the invention of all 
that could not be traced to Chrestien. resting the claim chiefly upon con- 
sideration of a sentimental patriotic nature. In opposition to these 
views, although the fact is not denied that Wolfram followed Chrestien 
closely for the parts common to both, it is urged to be incredible that he, 
a German poet, should invent a prologue to Chrestien's unfinished work 
connecting with an Angevin princely genealogical legend. It was also 
pointed out, with greatest fulness by Bartsch, Die Eigennamenim Parcival 
und Titurel, Germanist. Studien, II., 1 14, et seq., that the German poet gives 


a vast number of proper names which are not to be found in Chrestien, 
and that these are nearly all of French, and especially Southern French and 
Provencal origin. Simrock endeavoured to meet this argument in the fifth 
edition of his translation, but with little success. Botticher, whilst admit- 
ting the weight of Birch-Hirschf eld's arguments, points out the diffi- 
culties which his theory involves. If Wolfram simply misunderstood 
Chrestien and did not differ from him personally, why should he be at the 
trouble of inventing an elaborately feigned source to justify a simple ad- 
dition to the original story ? If he only knew of the Grail from Chrestien, 
what gave him the idea of endowing it, as he did, with mystic properties ? 
Martin points out in addition (Zs. f. d. A., V. 87) that Wolfram has the 
same connection of the Grail and Swan Knight story as Gerbert, whom, ex 
hypothesi^ he could not have known, and who certainly did not know 
him. In his Zur Gralsage, Martin returned to the question of proper 
names, and showed that a varying redaction of a large part of the romance 
is vouched for by the different names which Heinrich von dem Tiirlin 
applies to personages met with both in Chrestien and in Wolfram. If, 
then, one French version, that followed by Heinrich, who is obviously a 
translator, is lost, why not another 1 

The first thorough comparison of Chrestien and Wolfram is to be found 
in Otto Kupp ; s Unmittelbaren Quellen des Parzival, (Zs. f. d. Ph, XVII., 1). 
He argues for Kyot's existence. Some of the points he mentions in which 
the two poems differ, and in which Wolfram's account has a more archaic 
character, may be cited : The mention of Gurnemanz's sons ; the food pro- 
ducing properties of the Grail on Parzival's first visit ; the reproaches of 
the varlet to Parzival on his leaving the Grail Castle, " You are a goose, had 
you but moved your lips and asked the host ! Now you have lost great 
praise;"* the statement that the broken sword is to be made whole by 
dipping in the Lake Lac, and the mention of a sword charm by virtue of 
which Parzival can become lord of the Grail Castle ; the mention that no 
one seeing the Grail could die within eight (days. In addition Kiipp finds 
that many of the names in Wolfram are more archaic than those of 
Chrestien. On the other hand, Kiipp has not noticed that Chrestien has 
preserved a more archaic feature in the prohibition laid upon Gauvain not 
to leave for seven days the castle after he had undergone the adventure of 
the bed. 

Kiipp has not noticed that some of the special points he singles out in 
Wolfram are likewise to be found in Chrestien's continuators, e,g. } the 
mention of the sons of Gurnemanz, by Gerbert. 

* Of. the reproaches addressed to Potter Thompson (supra, p. 198). That the 
visitor tp the Bespelled Castle should be reproached, at once, for his failure to 
do as he ought, seems to be a feature of the earliest forms of the story, Cf. 
Campbell's Three Soldiers (supra, p. 196). If Wolfram had another source thau 
Chrestien it was one which partopk more of the unspelling than of the feud quest 
formula. Hence the presence of the feature here. 



I believe I have the first pointed out the insistence by both Wolfram 
and Gerbert upon the hero's love to and duty towards his wife. 

The name of Parzival's uncle in Wolfram, Gurnemanz, is nearer to the 
form in Gerbert, Gornumant, than to that in Chrestien, Gonemant. 

The matter may be summed up thus : it is very improbable that 
Wolfram should have invented those parts of the story found in him alone ; 
the parts common to him and Chrestien are frequently more archaic in his 
case ; there are numerous points of contact between him and Gerbert. 
All this speaks for another French source than Chrestien. On the other 
hand, it is almost inconceivable that such a source should have presented 
the Grail as Wolfram presents it. 

I cannot affect to consider the question decidedly settled one way or 
the other, and have, therefore, preferred to make no use of Wolfram. I 
would only point out that if the contentions of the foregoing studies be 
admitted, they strongly favour the genuineness of the non-Chrestien 
section of Wolfram's poem,* though I admit they throw no light upon 
his special presentment of the Grail itself. 

* In Wolfram's work there is a much closer connection between the Gawain 
quest and the remainder of the poem than in Chrestien. Orgueilleuse, to win 
whose love Gawain accomplishes his feats, is a former love of Amfortas, the 
Grail King, who won for her a rich treasure and was wounded in her service. 
Klinschor, too, the lord of the Magic Castle, is brought into contact with 
Orgueilleuse, whom he helps against Q-ramoflanz. It is difficult to say whether 
this testifies to an earlier or later stage of growth of the legend. The winning 
of Orgueilleuse as the consequence of accomplishing the feat of the Ford 
Perillous and plucking the branch is strongly insisted upon by Wolfram and 
not mentioned by Chrestien, though it is possible he might have intended to 
wed the two had he finished his poem. In this respect, however, and taking 
these two works as they stand, Wolfram's account seema decidedly the earlier. 
In another point, too, he seems to have preserved the older form. Besides his 
Kundrie la Sorciere (the loathly damsel) he has a Kundrie la Belle, whom I take 
to be the loathly damsel released from the transforming spell. 




I BELIEVE the only parallel to this prologue to be the one furnished by 
that form of the Brandan legend of which Schroder has printed a German 
version (Sanct Brandan) at Erlangen, in 1871, from a MS. of the fourteenth 
century, but the first composition of which he places (p. 15) in the last 
quarter of the twelfth century. The text in question will be found pp. 
51, et seq. : Brandan, a servant of God, seeks out marvels in rare books, 
he finds that two paradises were on earth, that another world was 
situated under this one, so that when it is here night it is day there, and 
of a fish so big that forests grew on his back, also that the grace of God 
allowed some respite every Saturday night to the torments of Judas. 
Angry at all these things he burnt the book. But the voice of God 
spake to him, " Pear friend Brandan thou hast done wrong, and through 
thy wrath I see My wonders lost." The holy Christ bade him fare nine 
years on the ocean, until he see whether these marvels were real or a lie. 
Thereafter Brandan makes ready a ship to set forth on his travels. 

This version was, very popular in Germany. Schroder prints a Low 
German adaptation, and a chap book one, frequently reprinted during 
the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries. But besides this 
form there was another, now lost, which can be partially recovered from, 
the; allusions to it in the "Wartburg Krieg, a German poem of the 
thirteenth and early fourteenth century, and which is as follows : 
An angel brings Brandan a book from heaven : Brandan finds so many 
iricjedible things in it that he taxes book and angel with lying, and burns 
the book. For his unfaith he must wander till he find it. God's grace 
grants him this at last ; an angel gives him the sign of two tires burning, 
which are the eyes of an ox, upon whose tongue he shall find the book. 
He hands it to Uranias, who brings it to Scotland (i.e., of course Ireland 
Schroder, p. 9. 

The closeness of the parallel cannot be denied, and it raises many 
interesting questions, which I can here only allude tq. The Isle of 
Brandan has always been recognized as a Christian variant of the Celtic 
Tir-na n-Og, the Land of the Shades, Avalon. Schroder has some 
instructive remarks on this subject, p. 11. The voyage of Brandan may 


thus be compared with that of Bran, the son of Febal (supra, p. 232), both 
being versions of the wide-spread myth of a mortal's visit to the otherworld. 
It is not a little remarkable that in the Latin legend, which differs from the 
German form by the absence of the above-cited prologue, there is an 
account (missing in the German), of a " conopeus " (" cover " or " canopy," 
cf. Ducange and Diez, sub voce ; the old French version translates it by 
" Pavilion of the colour of silver but harder than marble, and a column 
therein of clearest crystal." And on the fourth day they find a window 
and therein a " calix " of the same nature as the " conopeus " and a " patena " 
of the colour of the column (Schroder, p. 27, and Note 41). 

Thus there is a formal connection between the Brandan legend and 
the Grail romances in the prologue common to two works of each cycle, 
and there is a likeness of subject-matter between the Brandan legend 
and the older Celtic traditions which I have assumed to be the basis of 
the romances. But German literature likewise supplies evidence of a 
connection between Brandan and Bran. Professor Karl Pearson has 
referred me to a passage in the Pfaffe Amis, a thirteenth century South 
German poem, composed by Der Strieker, the hero of which, a prototype 
of Eulenspiegel, goes through the world gulling and tricking his 
contemporaries. In a certain town he persuades the good people to 
entrust to him their money, by telling them that he has in his possession a 
very precious relic, the head of St. Brandan, which has commanded him to 
build a cathedral (Lambl's Edition, Leipzig, 1872, p. 32). The preser- 
vation of the head of Bran is a special feature in the Mabinogi. I have 
instanced parallels from Celtic tradition (Bran wen, p. 14), and Professor 
Rhys has since (Hibb. Lect., p. 94) connected the whole with Celtic 
mythological beliefs. This chance reference in a German poem is the 
only trace to my knowledge of an earlier legend in which, it may be, 
Bran and Brandan, the visitor to and the lord of the otherworld, were 
one and the same person. 

It is highly desirable that every form of or allusion to the Brandan 
legend should be examined afresh, as, perhaps, able to throw fresh light 
upon the origin and growth of the Grail legend. In Pseudo-Chrestien 
Perceval's mother goes on a pilgrimage to the shrine of St. Braudan. 



[This Index is to the Summaries contained in Chapter II, and the references 
are not to page and line, but to Version and Incident. The Versions are dis- 
tinguished by the following abbreviations : 

Conte du Q-raal Co, Pseudo-Chrestien PC, Chrestien C, Gautier G, Manessier 
Ma, G-erbert Ge, Wolfram "W, Heinrich von dem Tiirlin H, Mabinogi of 
Peredur M, Thornton MS. Sir Perceval T, Didot-Perceval D, Borron's poem B, 
Queste Q< (Q 1 and Q, 2 refer to the different drafts of the romance distinguished 
p. 83) Grand St. Q-raal GG. With the less important entries, or when the 
entries are confined to one version, a simple number reference is given. But in 
the case of the more important personages, notably Perceval, Gawain, and 
G-alahad, an attempt has been made to show the life history, by grouping 
together references to the same incident from different versions ; in this case 

each incident group is separated from other groups by a long dash . Any 

speciality in the incident presented by a version is bracketed before the reference 

initial, and, when deemed advisable, reference has been made to allied as well as 

to similar incidents. This detail, to save space, is, as a rule, given only once, as 

under Perceval, and not duplicated under other headings, the number reference 

alone being given in the latter cases. The fullest entry is Perceval, which 

practically comprises such entries as Fisher King, Grail, Sword, Lance, etc.] 

ABEL O37, GG24. 



ADAM a37, GG24. 




AGUIGBENONS Co, Kingrun W, anonymous M, C6, W, M8. 

ALAINS, Celidoine's son GG43. 

ALAINS or ALEIN (li Gros D, Q, GG) B12 Dprol, 1, 6, 12, Q26, GG30, 

43, 45, 51, 58, 59. 
ALEINE, Gawain's niece, D.l. 
ALFASEM GG51, 58. 
AMFOBTAS, see Fisher King. 
ANGHABAD Law Eurawc, M12, 14. 
ANTIKONIE, see Facile Damsel. 

INDEX I. 267 



ABIDES of Cavalon Mal4, 16 (a King of Cavalon mentioned 012 corresponds 
to Vergulat of Askalon in W). 

ARTHUR PC2, 3, 5, 01, Dprol. arrival of Perceval at his court C3, W, M3, 

T4, Dprol. 06, 9, 10, W, M9, 10, 11 M13, 14 Oil, W,M20 

T7 CIS, W GH, W G2, 3, 6, 9, 11, 13, 16, 19, 20, MalO, 16, 23, 

Ge5, H, Dl, 3, 5, 8, 14, 16, M25, Q3, 5, 13, GG33, 45, 48. 


AVALON or AVARON B12, 13, D9. 


BANDAMAGUS Q5, 6, 43. 

BANS Q26, GG30, 59. 



BLAISE Dprol, 14. 

BLANCHEFLEUR Co, Conduiramur W, anonymous M, cf. Lufamour T 

Perceval's cousin Co, W first meeting with Perceval C6, W, M8 

second meeting with Perceval G10 third meeting Mal3-16 third 

meeting and marriage with Perceval Ge8-10, cf. W. 

BLIHIS PCl = Blaise? 


BLIOCADRANS (of Wales, Perceval's father), PC6. 

BORS, BOHORS, BOORT Ql, 3, 13, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, Mal8 Q35, 48-52. 



BRONS, BRON, or HEBRON. B7, 8, 12, 14, Dprol, 6, 16, GG41, 42, cf. p. 19. 

BRUILLANT GG58 = Urlain Q35. 


CAIN Q37, GG24. 




CALOGRENANT 0,33. CALOGRINANT Mal8 Calocreant in H, one 

of the three Grail-seekers. 



CARDUEL C3 Carduel of Nantes Gl. 



CAVALON C12 M!al4, 16. 

CELIDOINE GG.22, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 33, 39, 59, Q26. 

CHANAAN GG45, 47. 

CHESSBOARD CASTLE G7, D4, M24 G14 G18, D13. 

CHRIST Bl-3, 5, 6, 8, 11, Q7, 10, 13, 15, 20, 26, 50, Dprol, 16, Gel5, GG1- 4, 
6, 7, 9, 10, 12, 13, 16, 21, 23, 30, 37, 41, 45. 

CLAMADEX C6, Clamide W, the earl M8 = tbe Sowdane T7. 

268 INDEX I. 


CLARISSE Co Mons MS. or Clarissant Montpellier MS., ITONJE W CIS, 

Gl, W. 


CLAUDIUS, son o Claudas Q 2 51. 

CORBENIC a, GG, CORBIERE Ma23, Q13, 43, 48, GG51. 



CRUDEL 0,6, 15, Gel5, GG36-38. 

DAVID a37. 


ELIEZER 0,27. 

EMPTY SEAT, see Seat Perillous. 









E VALACH. Evalach li mescouneus GG, Eualac Q, ( Anelac 26) , Evelac Ma, Ge. 
Overcoming Tholomes GG6, 7, 10, 11, 12, 14, Q.6, 15, 26, Ma3, Gel5, name 
changed to Mordrains, which see. 

EVE O37, GG24. 

FACILE DAMSEL, Anonymous Co, H, M, AntiJconie W, C14, W, H, M21. 


FELIX GG3, 11. 

FISHER KING. Anonymous Co, Anifortas W, Brons B, D, Alain GG. 
Anonymous (?), O l , Pelles Q 2 . In M the Fisher corresponds to Gonemans, 
In all the French works of the cycle the adjective rich is commonly applied 

to the Fisher. Splendour of court PCI learned in black art PC3 old 

Surname given to Brons B12, to Alain GG43. 

and sick Dprol, First meeting with Perceval C7, W, Dll, of. PC3, M6 

Vessel given to him Dl commanded to go to the West D6. 

C8, W, cf. D2, 12 Oil. W, cf. D15, M21 G7, 8, 9, 16, 18, 19, 20 

Second meeting with Perceval G22, Mal-7 or Gel-5, D.16, cf. M25 

MalO Third meeting with Perceval Ma22, Ge22, W Grandfather of 

G-alahad O% 26. See also Maimed King. 

FLEGENTYNE GG22, 29, 31, 37, 59. 


GALAHAD (GrALAAD). Father: Lancelot Q,, GG Mother: daughter of King 

Pelles Q, 1 , GG, or Fisher King Q, 2 Seat Perillous Q,2 Sword Q.3 

Quest proclaimed Q.5 Evelac's Shield 0,6, GG50 Devil-inhabited 

tomb Q.7, cf. Gel7 Melians' discomforture O8 Castle of Maidens Q.9 

overcoming of Lancelot and Perc9val Q.11 destined achiever of Quest 

O-13 rescue of Perceval Q16 Genealogy Q26, GG21, 30, 58 liken- 

INDEX I. 269 


_ng to a spotless bull Q.29 overcoming of Gawain 0,34 stay on ship 

Q35 ? 36 sword O-36 Maimed King Q. 2 36 capture of Castle 

Carchelois Q.39 stag and lions O40, cf. GG45 castle of the evil custom 

0,4,1 stay with father O42 healing of Mordrains Q44, cf. GO-39 

cooling of fountain 145 making white the Cross GG40 release of 

Symeu Q.46, GG49 making whole sword GG44 release of Moys GG46 

five years' wanderings 0,47 arrival at King Peleur's Q, 1 , Maimed 

King's O 2 , witnessing of Grail and healing of Maimed King O48-50 

Sarras, crowning, death O51, 52. 

GALAHAD (GALAAD) son of Joseph GG8, 31, 34 King of Hocelice and 

ancestor of Urien GG49 founding of abbey for Symeu GG49. 


GANORT GG33, 35. 


GAWAIN. Gauvain Co, O-, GG, Gwalchmai M, Gawan W, Gawein H, Gawayne 

or Wawayne T of the seed of Joseph of Arimathea GG48, Arthur's 

nephew Co, O conquers Blihos Bliheris PC2 allusion to his finding the 

Grail PC3 one of the knights met by Perceval in wood Ml, T2 helps 

Perceval to disarm Ked Knight T4 meeting with Perceval after blood- 
drops incident CIO, W, Mil vow to release imprisoned maiden Oil, 

M20 reproached by Guigambresil C12, (Kingrimur) "W, (anonymous) 

Joins in search for Grail with remainder of Table Round D2, Q,, betraying knowledge of 
Maimed King Q,5. 

M20 tournament at Tiebaut's C13, (Lippaot) W, (Leigamar) H, cf. 

D15, where Perceval is hero but Gawain best knight after him adven- 
ture with the facile damsel C14, (Antikonie) W, H, M21 injunction to 

seek bleeding lance C14, "W, (Grail) H adventure with Griogoras C16, 

(Urjan) W, (Lohenis) H meeting with scornful damsel, Orgeuilleuee, 

arrival at ferryman's C16, W Magic Castle ClT, W, cf. GG51 may 

not leave castle C17 -second meeting with Orgueilleuse CIS, W, 

(Mancipicelle) H Ford Perillous, Guiromelant CIS, (Gramoflanz) W, 

(Giremelanz) H marriage with Orgueilleuse W,. (?) CIS arrival of 

Arthur to witness combat with Guiromelant CIS continued by Gl, "W, H 

fight with Perceval W, cf. T7 reconciliation with Guiromelant Gl, "W, H 

departure on Grail Quest and winning various . talismans H [first 

arrival at Grail Castle according to Montpellier MS. of Co] Brun de 

Branlant, Brandalis Gl and 2 slaying of unknown knight and Q.uest to 

avenge him G3 Chapel of Black Hand G3 arrival at Grail Castle (first 

Meeting with Ywain, Gheheris and confession to hermit QlO. 

according to Mons MS. of Co), half successful G3, wholly successful H, cf. 

M25 found by Peredur at Castle of Talismans, and reference in O51 

Meeting with Hector de Mares Q29. 

Welsh version greetings of country folk G3, cf. Ge3 meeting with 

Overcoming at Galahad's hand Q34. 
his son G4 Mount Dolorous Quest G19 renewed Grail Quest, re- 

270 INDEX I. 


preached for conduct at Fisher King's, slaying of Margon MalO rescue 

of Lyonel Mal8 rescue by Perceval Gel6. 


GIFLES Gil, G2. 

GONEMANS or GONEMANT Co, Gornumant Ge, Gurnemanz W, Fisher 
Uncle M, C5, W, M5, uncle to Blanchefleur C6, C7, W, second meeting with 
Perceval Ge8-9, cf. T6. 


GBAIL, Early History of. Last Supper cup given to Joseph B2, 3, 4, GG2, 

Q50, Ma3 Solace of Joseph B5, 6, GG2, D16, Ma3 (Montpellier MS.) 

Book of, revealed to hermit GG2. 

Q-rail and Fish B8, 9 cf. GG43 Directs Joseph what to do with Alain 

B12, cf. GG42, confided to Brons B14, 15,Dprol, 6, (Alain) GG51 D6, 

10 feeds host GG5, Q13, also GG32 Blinding of Nasciens GG16, 21, 

23, 30, passage to England 31, D6, Q6, 13, 15 Crudel GG38, Q.15, Gel5 

Blinding of Mordrains GG38, 39, 42, only feeds the sinless 43, 44, refuses 

meat to Chanaan and Symeu 47, resting-place, Castle Corbenic GG51. 

GBAIL, Quest of by Perceval : first seen at Fisher King's PC3, C7, W, Dll 

properties of C8, W, D12 Oil, W 015, W lights up forest 

G14 G21 seen for second time G22-Mal-7 or Gel-3, D16r heals 

Hector and Perceval Ma20 taken from earth Ge6, cf. W opposed 

by witch, Ge8, 9 connection with Shield Gel3 seen for third time 

Ma23, 24, Ge22 ; ly G-awain : H and G3 ; by Lancelot : O12, 22, 43 ; by 
Galahad : Q,2, feeds Arthur's court Q,4, quest proclaimed 0,5, feeds host 
Q.13, GG 32, denied to G-awain and Hector 0,29, 30, accomplished Q50-52. 

GBAIL-ME3SENGEB, see Loathly Damsel. 

GBAMOFLANZ see Guiromelant. 

GBIOGOBAS C16=Lohenis H. 

GTJIBOMELANT Co, Gramoflanz W, Giremelanz H, C18-G1, W, H. 

HECTOB (de MABES Q) O29, 34, 43, Ma20. 



HELYAB GG2, 8, 34. 

HELYAS Q.26 = Ysaies GG30, 38. 





JOSEPH OF ABIMATHEA. D'Arymathye B, de Arimatliie GG, 
d'Abarimathie or d'Arimathie Q,, de Barimacie G, and Ma (Montpellier MS.), 

Josep (without mention of town Ma, Mons MS.), de Barismacbie Ge 

care of Christ's body, captivity, solace, release B2-7, GG2, 3, DIG, cf. Q6, 

Ma2 stay in Sarras GG4-11, O6, 26, Gel5, Ma3 B7 Passage to 

England GG31, Q6 feeding by Grail GG32, O13, cf. B8, 9 Moys 

Bll, 12, Dprol, cf. GG41 B12-15 GG34, 36, Q15, Gel5 GG38, 

44, 45, 48, 50 Dl, 6, 12. 

INDEX I. 271 



Ariraathea, GG2, 5, 9, 10, 11 $6, 13, 14, 16, 17, 31 $6, 13 and 32, 36 16, 

38 a6 and 15, 40, 41 $13 cf. D6, 42, 43, 45, 46, 49, 50 $6, $50, 51. 
JOSUE GG51, 58. 
KAY. Kex Co T2 C3, W, M3 04, W, M4 C6, C9 CIO, W, 

Mil M14 T7 O-3, 19, MalO, Ge21, D8 one of the three 

G-rail-questers H. 

LAB AN 0,35 (query variant of Lambar?). 

LABEL'S DATTGHTEB GG28, 29, 37, 39. 
LANCE (Spear) PC3, 4, C7, 8, M6, Oil, 14, 15, G3, 22, Mai, 2, 24, Ge22, H, 

Dll, 12, 16, $50, 51, GG9, 15, 16. 

LANCELOT, Lancelot of Lake's grandfather $26, GG30, 59. 
LANCELOT. Galahad's father $, GG, $1, 2, 4 (cf. Cll), 5, 11, 12 (cf. C7 

and G3), 22, 23, 24, 25, 26 (cf. GG58) 27, 28, 29, 42, 43, GG30, 33, 40, 

45, 58, 59, PC4. 

LIONEL $1, 3, attacks Bors $33, Mal8. 
LOATHLY DAMSEL. Anonymous Co, Kundrie W, Perceval's cousin M, 

reproaches Perceval Cll, W, M20 announces end of Quest, Ma23, M25. 

LOGBES PCI, G3, $12, 35, 47. 

LOHENIS H = Griogoras C16. 


LONGIS PC4, Ma2, D16. 

LOT GG48. 


LUFAMOUB T7, cf. Blanchefleur. 


MAIMED or LAME KING. Same personage as Fisher King. Designated in 

this way only M, almost entirely so $ 2 (5, 13, also $* 36, 39, 47, 50), 

never so B, D. GG58 applies the designation to Pelicans. 

MANCIPICELLE, see Orgueilleuse. 

MABPTTS (WABPTJS $26) GG30, 59. 

MELIANS, Galahad's companion $8, 10. 
MEBLIN (see p. 64c) G20, Dprol, 14, 15, $13. 
MOBDBAINS GG, Mordains $, once Noodrans Ma, once Mordrach Ge 

Baptism GG14, 15, $6, 26, Ma3 Gel5 GG16, 17, vision of descendants 

272 INDEX I. 


18, Q2G GG19, 20, stay on island 21, cf. Q19 GG27, Q36 GG29 

Crudel, and blinding by Grail 37, 38, Q15, Gel5 retires to hermitage 

GG39, Q44 his shield GG50, Q6, 


MORDRET Ge6, 7. 





MOYS, MOYSES (B). Seat Perillous BIO, 11, 12, Dprol, 1, GG41, 46. 

NASCIENS GG, a, Natiien Ma -Baptism GG14, Q6, 26, Ma3 Blinded 

by Grail GG16 GG18, 19, 20, 21, 22, turning isle and Solomon's ship, 

23-27, Q35-37 GG28, 29, 30, 32, 33, Crudel 37, 38, (called Seraphe) 

0,15 GG39 his tomb GG50 death GG59 appears as hermit 

in Arthur's time Q4, 5, 6, 29. 

NASCIENS, son of Celidoine, GG39. 

NASCIENS, grandson of Celidoine GG30, 59. 

NICODEMUS B3, 4, 5. 

NOIRONS, i.e., Nero GG3. 


ORGUEILLEUSE. Orguellouse C, Orgeluse W=Mancipicelle H, C16 
G1,W, H. 

OWAIN M, E WAYNE T, YONES C4, YWAIN "li aoutres" Q6, 9, 10, 29, 
GG49 meets Perceval Ml, T2 helps him M3, C4. 

PARTINAL Ma5, 8, 21, 22. 


PELEUR Q'S, 47, 48. 


PELLEHEM Q. 2 35. 

PELLES Q 2 l-3, 14, 27, 36, 44, 48, 50, GG59. 

T. Father : Bliocadrans PC ; anonymous Co, Q, ; Alain D ; Gahmuret W ; 
Evrawc M ; Percy velle T ; Pelleheni l 2 . Mother : Anonymous Co, D, Q,, M ; 

Herzeloyde "W ; Acheflour (Arthur's sister) T brought up in wood Cl, W, 

M, Tl meets knights (5) Cl, W, (3) Ml, T2 leaves mother Cl, W, 

D, M1,T2 first meeting with lady of tent C2, (leschute) W, M2, T3 

arrival at Arthur's Court C3, W, D, M3, T4 laughing prophetic damsel 

Puts on red armour for love of Aleine, accomplishes the feat of the Seat Perillous, and sets 
forth on Quest Dl and 2. 

C3, W, dwarves M3 slays red knight C4, (Ither of Gaheviez) W, (colour 

Slays the red knight, Orgoillous Delandes, D3. 

not specified) M3, T4 overcomes 16 Knights M4 burns witch T5 

arrival at house of first uncle, Gonemans C5, Gurnemanz W, Anonymous 

M5, and (different adventure partly corresponding to Ge8) T6 first 

arrival at castle of lady love, Blanchefleur C5, Conduiramur W, Anonymous 
M8, Lufamour T7 first arrival at Fisher King's C7, W, Dll, M6 is 



PERCEVAL (continued) . 
reproached by wayside damsel, cousin : (Anonymous) C8, (Sigune) W, D12, 

foster sister M7 second meeting with lady of tent C9, W, M9 

overcoming of Sorceresses of Gloucester M10 blood drops in the snow CIO, 

W, Mil Adventures with Angharad Law Eurawc ; at the castle of the 

huge grey man ; serpent on the gold ring; Mound of Mourning; Addanc 

of the Lake ; Countess of Achievements M12-19 reproaches of the 

loathly damsel Gil, (Kundrie) W, M20 Good Friday incident and con- 
fession to uncle C15, (Trevrezent) "W, D14, M22 the Castle of the Horn 

G6 the Castle of the Chessboard G7, D4, M24 meeting with brother 

of Eed Knight G8 Ford amorous G-9, perillous D9 second meeting 

with Blanchefleur GUO meeting with Kosette and Le Beau Mauvais 

Oil, D8 meeting with sister and visit to hermit G12, D5 and 6 the 

Castle of Maidens G12a meeting with the hound-stealing damsel G13, 

D13, M24 meeting with the damsel of the white mule G14 tourna- 
ment at Castle Orguellous G16 = D15 (Melianz de Lis) and M19 (?) 

Deliverance of knight in tomb Q-17 second visit to the Castle of the 

Chessboard G18, D13 delivery of Bagommedes G-19 arrival at Mount 

Dolorous G20 the Black Hand in the Chapel G21 second arrival at 

Grail Castle G22-Mal-7 and Gel, D16, (with final overcoming of Sorceresses 
of Gloucester) M25. 

Overcomes Black Knight, slays giant and finds mother T9. 

Perceval and Saigremors Ma8 

Second visit to Chapel of the Black 
Hand Mai 1 the demon horse Ma 

Encounter, unknown to either, with Galahad 

Qll. Meeting with recluse aunt Q13. 
Assistance at the hands of the Bed Knight Q,16- 

12, Q18 Stay on the island Q19, 

Adventure of the ship Q,33, essay to draw 
sword Q,35. 

and 20, and temptation by damsel 

21, Mal3 Delivery of Dodinel's 

lady love Mal4 Tribuet Mal5 

third meeting with Blanchefleur 

Mal6 meeting with coward 

knight Mal7 combat with Hector 

Ma20 slaying of Partinal Ma21 

Receives Galahad's sword Q,41, bears Gala- 
had company for five years Q,47 adjusts 

the sword at the Court of Pelles Q 2 48. 

third arrival at Grail Castle 

Ma22 learns death of his uncle 

the Fisher King from loathly damsel 

Ma23, W retires into wilderness 

0,52, Ma24 dies Q52, goes to 

Palestine and dies (?) T. 

Breaking of sword at the Gate of Para- 
dise Ge2 Blessings of the country 

folk for putting question Ge3 

Mending of sword at forge of the 

serpent Ge4 Accomplishment of 

the feat of the Perillous Seat Ge5 

adventures at sister's Castle, 

with Mordret, and at cousin's, Castle 

of Maidens Ge6 encounter with 

Kex, Gauvain, and Tristan Ge7, cf. 

T7 meeting with Gornumant Ge8 

(cf. T6) and fight with the resuscitat- 
ing hag third arrival at Blanche- 
fleur' s Castle, marriage Ge9 

deliverance of maiden, abolition of 
evil custom, knight on fire GelO-12 

obtains the promised shield 

G13 combat with the Dragon 

King Gel4 arrival at abbey and 

story of Mordrains Gel5, O15 

the swan-drawn coffin Gel6 

Devil in tomb Gel7, cf. Q7 
deliverance of maiden from fountain 
Gel8 punishment of traitress 

274 INDEX I. 


damsel G-el9 combat with giant 

Ge20, cf. T9 encounters Kex 

Ge21 third arrival at Grail 

Castle Ge22. 


PERCEVAL'S SISTER, daughter to Pellehem Q. 2 , G12, D5-7, O35, 36, 
38, 41, 42 cf. M7. 

PERCEVAL'S UNCLE, see Gronemans, Fisher King. 


PETRUS B8, 12, 13, 14, PETER GG43, PIERRON GG45, 47, 48. 


PILATE Bl, GG2, B3, 6. 



RED KNIGHT. Slain by Perceval C3, 4, Tl, 5, who takes his arms, and is 
mistaken for him C6, T6, transferred to G-alahad when latter takes 
Perceval's place 0,14, 16 G8, 9. 

ROSETTE, Loathly Maiden, Gil, D8. 

SAIGREMORS CIO, Ma8, 9, 18, D2. 

SARRAOUITE GG13, 16, 22, 28, 29, 59. 

SARRAS GG5, 11, 13, 15, 18, Ma3, Q.26, 41, 50, GG30. 

SEAT PERILLOUS (empty) BIO, Dprol, 1 Q2, GG41, Ge5, 0,13. 

SERAPHE GG, O, Ge, once Salafres Ma Battle with Tholomes GG12, 14, 

0,6, 26, Ma3, Gel5, renamed Nasciens, which see. 


SOLOMON'S SHIP O35-38, GG24, 27, 30, 58. 

SOLOMON'S SWORD O35, 38, GG27, cf. Q48. 


STAG HUNT G7, 8, 16, 18, D4, 13, M24. 

SWORD PC3, C7, 8, M6, G3, 12, 22, Ma5, 22, Gel, 2, 4, 15, 22, H, Q2, 3, 
48, GG33, 44, 58. See also Solomon's sword. 

SYMEU O46, GG31, 47, 49. 

THOLOMES O.G, Gel5, GG11, 12, 14. 






URLAIN or URBAN Q35 = Bruillant GG58. 

UTHER PENDRAGON GG9, cf. p. 64o. 

VERRINE B6 = Marie la Venissienne GG3. 

VESPASIAN B6, GG3, 4, Ma3, O7. 

WASTE CITY, King of the, Ge8. 

WASTE LAND PCI, (forest) 6, Q13, 35, GG58. 

YSAIES GG30, 59-Helyas, Q26. 

YWAIN, see Owain. 



[This Index comprises the whole of the work with exception of the Summaries, 
for which see Index I. The references are to the pages. The entries apply 
solely to the page number or page group-number which they immediately 
precede, and not to all the pages between themselves and the next entry. In 
the majority of cases a simple number reference is given, and the fuller entries 
are to those points which the author wishes specially to emphasise.] 

Abundia and Herodias, 100. 

Adonis, 101. 

Alain (son of Brons), 66, 77, 79, 82, 

83, 84, 89, 109, 112, 123, as Fisher 
King 208, 210, 218, 222, 245. 

Amfortas, Fisher King in Wolfram 

249, in Wagner's Parsifal 253-55, 

Aminadap, 84. 

Arbois de Jubainville, 184-85, 188. 


, Arthur, Arthur saga, Arthurian romance 
or legend, 108, 114, 116, 117, 
Martin's interpretation of 122-24, 
130, 134, 136, 144, 147, 148, 153, 
155, 156, 188, A's waiting 197-98, 
A and Potter Thompson 198, 205, 
218, 219, 221, 222, popularity of 
228-29, Celtic character of 230, 
231, 236, 243, 244, 245. 

Avalon (Avaron), 77, punning ex- 
planation of 78, parallel to the 
Grail 122-23 and 188, with the 
Magic Castle 191, 198, 218, 222, 
connection with Q-lastonbury 223, 
248, parallel with Brandan's isle 

Balclur, 100. 

Ban, 83, 84. 

Baring-Gould, 98. 

Bartsch, 261. 

Battle of Magh Kath, 185, 186. 

Bergmann's San Greal, 104. 
Bespelled Castle in Celtic tradition, 

Birch- Hirschf eld, 4, 5, 6, 38, 52, 64d, 

84, full analysis of his work 108- 
121, Martin's criticism 121-23, 124, 
objections to his hypothesis!25-126, 
128, 132, 133, 134, 137, 138, 145, 
151, 168, 171, 174, 207, 217, 220, 

250, Wolfram and Chrestien 261-62. 
Blaise, 113. 

Blanchefleur, 92, 114, 115, 133, com- 
parison of Chrestien and Mabinogi 
135, 140, 147, 204, 238, example of 
sex-relations of the time 241. 
Blood-drops in the snow, 137-38. 

Books of Rights and G-easa, 213. 

' Borron, Robert de, author of the 
Joseph d'Arimathie, bibliographical 
details 2, MS. statements respecting 
4-6, 19, passage of Grail to England 
79-80, 94, 95, 96, Hucher's views 
105-6, relation to other versions 
according to Birch -Hirschf eld 111- 
115, 116, 118-20, Martin's views 
121-124, 125, 131, 171, secret words 
186, 188, Fisher King in 207-9, 220, 
221, 222, his conception 239, chastity 
ideal in 245, 247, 251, 252. 

Bors, 66, exemplification of spirit of 
Q.ueste 239. 

Botticher, Wolfram and Chrestien 

Bran (the Blessed) 108, and Cernun- 
nos 211, connection with conversion 
of Britain 218-20, 226, connection 
with Braiidan legend 265. 

Bran the Son of Febal 192, 194, 232, 

Brandan legend 264-65. 

Branwen (Mabinogi of) 76, 97, 108, 
167, 168, cauldron 186, 211, 219, 

Britain, evangelisation of, 80, 91, 95, 
105-106, 107, 124, 218, connection 
with the Brons and Joseph legends 

Brons 66, 70, 72, 75, 77, special form 
of Early History 78-79, 80, 81, two 
accounts respecting 82-83, 84, 85, 
86, 88, in the Didot-Perceval 89, 91, 
93, 94, 95, 106, 109, 112, 113, 123, 
124, 125, 182, as Fisher King 208-11, 
as Apostle of Britain 218-26, 235. 
T 2 



Bruillans 84. 

Brunhild 232-. 

Bundling 135. 

Caesarius of Heisterbach 122. 

Campbell, J. F., 102-03, 152, 159-60, 
cup of healing 187, 210. 

Campbell, No. 1 Young King of Easaidli 
Kuadh 187; No. 10 The Three 
Soldiers 195-96 ; No. 41 The Widow 
and her Daughters 187 ; No. 47 Mac 
Iain Direach 187, 212 ; No. 51 The 
Fair G-ruagach 213; No. 52 The 
Knight of the Eed Shield 156-57, 
the resuscitating carlin 166-67; No. 
58 The Eider of G-rianaig 157, 209 ; 
No. 76 Conall Gulban 167, 187; 
No. 82 How the Een was set up 
158, 189 ; No. 84 Manus 189-90 ; 
No. 86 The Daughter of King Under 
the Waves, 194-95, 246. 

Campbell, J. G., Muilearteach 167. 

Catheloys 84. 

Celidoine 83, 84. 

Celtic tradition, origin of or elements 
in Grail legend, 7, how affected by 
placing of versions 68-69, opinions 
of previous investigators 97-107, 
Birch-Hirschfeld 111-113-14-15- 
17-20, Martin 121-24, Hertz 125, 
Grail apparently foreign to 151, 164- 
65, Carlin in 167-69, 170-71, 181, 
183-84, Vessel in 184-88, Sword in 
188-90, 191, 195, 197, 199, 208, origin 
of legend 215-18, 223-27, relation to 
mediaeval romance 230, individualism 
in 231, woman in 231-33, the super- 
natural in 234, 235, .chastity ideal 
247, 248, 251, transformation of 255, 

Ceridwen 186, 210-11. 

Cernunnos 211. 

Cet mac Magach 231. 

Chanson de Koland 248. 

Charlemagne, Carolingian Saga, 197, 

229, 230, 231. 

Chastity ideal in the Queste 243-44, in 
later versions 245-46, in popular and 
Celtic tradition, 246-47. 
Chessboard Castle 127-30, 139-41. 
Chrestien, bibliographical description 
1, 2, statements of MSS. respecting 
4, 5, 8, 66, 69, 70, 74, 76, 80, 81, 85, 
86, 91, 92, 93, 95, views of previous 
investigators 98-108, Birch-Hirsch- 
feld 1C3-121, 122, 124, 125, 126, 
relation to Djdot-Perceval 127-131, 
to Mabinogt 132-JL45, nature of 
model 145-46, relation to Sir 'Per- 
ceval 147-51, relation to Great Fool 

155-56-58-59, 164, 168, visit to 
Grail Castle in 171-74, 175, repre- 
sents mainly feud quest 180-82, 199, 
207, 208, 211, 218, his ideal 237-38, 
245, 249, 250, relation to Wolfram 

Christian origin of or elements in 
Grail legend, Christian tradition, 
legend, etc. ; as affected by placing of 
versions 68, 80, 123, 143, 146, 165, 
170-73, 179, 181, 186, 209, as af- 
fected by my hypothesis 215-18, 
220, 224, 226-27, relation to the talis- 
mans 238-39, 251-52, influence on 
the legend as a whole 255. 

Chronological arrangement of versions, 
6, Author's 95-96, Zamcke's 107, 
Birch-Hirschfelds' 120-21. 

Conall Cearnach, 231. 

Conan's delusions, 200. 

Conchobor, 192, 231, 233. 

Conduiramur, 204, and Parzival 249- 

Connla, 188, 194, 196, 232. 

Constituent elements in the romances, 

Corbenic, 83, 84. 

Cormac's visit to the otherworld, 193- 
94, 234. 

Counsels, the, in the romances, 150. 

Crestiens, p. 83 = Nasciens, p. 84. 

Cuchulainn, 153, 185, 188, 189, concep- 
tion of 192, gess of 214, parallel of 
legend to mediseval romances 231- 

Cumhall, father of Fionn, 158-59. 

Curoi mac Daire, 231. 

Cynewulf, 221. 

Dagda, the, and the cauldron 184-85, 

Deirdre, 137, and the Sons of Usneoh 

Diarmaid, 202, gess of 214. 

Didot-Perceval, prose sequel to Borron's 
poem, numbered as C 2, 65, 66, 68, 
70, 72, 73, 75, 76, 78, 79, 82, the 
Quest in 89-91, 92, 93, 94, 96, 
Zarncke's opinion of 107, Author- 
ship of according to Birch-Hirsch- 
feld 112-15, 117, 120, 121, 125, 126, 
relationship to Conte du Graal 127- 
30, origin of 131, 138, 139, stag hunt 
in 141-42, 145-46, 172-73, 179, 182, 
191, 198-99, 208, 245. 

Dietrich Saga, 230. 

Domanig, Parzival-Studien, 250. 

Duvau, 192. 

Dwarves incident in Chrestien and 
Mabinogi, 134. 



Elton, 219. 

Emer, wooing of, 232-33. 

Encyclopedia Britannica, 126. 

England, arrival of Grail in 76-80, 
Bircli-llirschfeld 116, Joseph legend 
in 221-22. 

Enygeus (Brons' wife), 81, 82. 

Evangelium Nicodemi, 221-22. 

Espinogre, 142. 

Expulsion and Keturn Formula 
(Aryan), 144, 153-54, 156, 159, 163- 
64, 190, 210, 225, 256. 

Fand, 232. 

Faust, 253. 

Fenian saga or cycle, sword in 188-90, 

Feud-Quest in the romances and in 
Celtic tradition, 181-90. 

Finn-eges, 209-11, 220. 

Fionn (Finn), Fionn-saga, 153-54, 157, 
connection with Great Fool and 
boyhood of Peredur 158-59, 163-6*, 
Fionn's enchantment 186-87, and 
sword 189-90, 195, in the other- 
world 200-03, and salmon 209-11, 
214, 220, 224, 231, 234, 256. 

Fish, according to Birch-Hirschfeld 
112, Martin 123-24, 224. See also 

Fisher King, Fisher or Kich Fisher, 
77, 78, as Grail- Keeper 80-86, rela- 
tion to the Promised Knight 87-89, 
107, 110, 113, 115, accounted for 
by Birch-Hirschfeld 117, 123, 124, 
134, 138, 139, 140, 142, 143, 144, 
180, 206, Author's explanation of 
207-11, 237, in Wolfram 249. 

Fisher King's daughter, 140-42. 

Fisher King's father, 74, 81, 110, 191. 

Fitzgerald 198, 231. 

Fomori 188, 230. 

Forster on Peredur, 132. 

Frederick II, 122, in the Kyffhaiiser 

Frederick I (Barbarossa) 196-97. 

Furnivall, 2, 3, 102-03, estimate of 
Queste criticised 242-43. 

Gaelic talismans = Grail and lance, 

Gaidoz, 219. 

Galahad, Galahad Quest, 66, 67, 83- 
86, as Promised Knight 90-94, 102, 
104, 106, 108, 109, 113, 131, 149, 
226, comparison with Perceval 
Quest 236, morality of 240, 245-46, 
252, 254. 

Gaston Paris on relation between 
Chrestien and Mabinogi, 132. 

Gautier (de Doulens), Pseudo-Gautier, 

numbered A II. 1-2, statements re- 
specting in M8. 4, Berne MS. of 19, 
69-70, 72, 74-75, 76-77, 81, 87, 
92-95, 101, 106, 110, 113, 114, 
120-21, relation to Didot-Perceval 
128-30, to Mabinogi 133 and 140- 
44, 145, 146, visit to Grail Castle in 
171-72, Gawain Quest in 174 and 
178-79, 182, 189, 199, 237, 246. 

Gautier (Walter) de Montbeliart and 
Borron 5, 103, 105, 120, 121. 

G-awain (Gauvain), 2, 67, 69, visit to 
Grail King 87, 92, 101, Martin's 
view of 122 and 124, 125, 164, 172, 
special form of Quest 176-78, 180, 
189, 191, visit to Magic Castle, 199- 
200, in Heinrich 203-05, 237, and 
.Orgueilleuse 240-41, 245, 251, 261- 

Geasa, 212-14. 

Geoffrey of Monmouth, 91, 119,219,229. 

Gerald (Giraldus Cambrensis), testi- 
mony respecting Map's authorship 
117-18, 122. 

Gerbert, numbered A IV. 1, 5, 69, love 
motif in 92, 95, 110, 121, 126, the 
witch who brings the dead to life in 
165-69, 172, 174-75, 179, 180, 199, 
chastity ideal in 246, 249, relation 
to Wolfram 262-63. 

Gervasius of Tilbury, 122, 197. 

Glastonbury, Skeat's view 105, Zarncke 
107, 220, and Avalon 223-25. 

Goethe, 253. 

Gonemans, 130-34, and Fisher King 
138, 140, and the witch 165-68, ad- 
vice to Perceval 211-12. See also 

Goon Desert, 81, 142. 

Grail, 66, hypothetical Christian origin 
of 68, first possessor of 69-70, solace 
of Joseph 70-72, connection with 
Sacrament 71 and 73, and Trinity 72, 
properties and effect of 74-76, name 
76, arrival in England 76-79, 83-84, 
89-90, 94, 96, 99, 100-112, phrase- 
ology used by romances in mention- 
ing it 113, 114-16, symbol of Christ's 
body, 117, 120, symbol of Avalon 
123, 124-26, 136, 140-142, absence 
of from Mabinogi and Thornton Sir 
P. 164, apparently foreign to Celtic 
legend 165, 169, various forms of visit 
to castle of 170-79, double nature of 
182-83, parallel to magic vessel of 
Celtic tradition 185-96, and Fionn 
202, 218, 221, mode of transforma- 
tion 224, 245, 247, in Wolfram 250- 
52, in Wagner 254-55, 261-63. 



Grail (Early History of), two forms 
65-66, Joseph form 67, relation to 
Christian origin hypothesis 68, 69, 
Brons form 80, 86, two forms in 
French romances 93-94, later than 
Queste 93, 95-96, 103, according to 
Birch-Hirschfeld 108-21, 151, 208, 
origin of 218 and 224. 

Grail (Quest of), two forms 65-67, 
Perceval form 67, relation to Celtic 
origin hypothesis 68, 69, 80, 83, 86, 
object of according to different 
versions 88-90, original form of 91, 
92, Perceval form older 93-94, 95- 
96, 105-06, 109-26, 131, 138, 
Mabinogi form of 139-44, 151, in- 
consistency of accounts respecting 
180-81, two formulas fused in 181, 
constituent elements in 215-16, 
mode of transformation 220, 237- 
39, 243, 245. 248, 251, 252. 

Grail legend, romance or cycle, origin 
of according to Birch-Hirschfeld 
120, 159, Christian element in 217, 
genesis and growth of 225-27, popu- 
larity of 228, 230, development of 
ethical ideas in 235 et seq., 248, 
future of 259, 265. 

Grail-Keeper and Promised Knight, 

Grail-Messenger and Rosette, 114. 
See also Loathly Damsel. 

Graine, 214. 

Gramoflanz, 193. 

Grand St. Graal, numbered E 3, 
authorship ascribed to Borron 5, 
Helinandus' testimony 52, 65-67, 
70, 72-73, 75-76, 79, conflicting ac- 
counts respecting Promised Knight 
in 84-86, 90, 91, 93, 94-96, 99, 102- 
112, 117, authorship of 119-20, 121, 
126, 146, 207-08, 219, 220, 247, pro- 
logue of and Brandan legend 264-65. 

Great Fool, lay or tale of the, 101-02, 
144, prose opening 152-53, com- 
parison with romances 154-56, 
originality of 158, relation to Fionn 
legend 159, Lay 159-162, 163, 164, 
ethical import of 256-57. 

Gregory of Tours and Evangelium 
Nicodemi, 221. 

Greloguevaus, 81. 

Grimm, No. 122, Dcr Krautescl, 195, 
197, 198, 204-05, 247. 

Gudrun, 233. 

Guinevere, 83. 

Gurnemanz, 113, 115, 249, 262-63. 
See also Gonemans. 

Guyot = Kiot, 104. 

Gwalchmai, 225-26, 228. See Gawain. 

Gwion and Fionn, 210. 

Hahn, J. G. von, 153-54. 

Halliwell, 98, 147. 

Haunted Castle, 204-05. 

Hawker, 244. 

Hebron 108 Brons, which see. 

Hector, 187. 

Heinrich von dem Tiirlin, numbered 
K, 4, citation of Chrestien 6, 69, 91, 
Martin's view of 122, 125, visit to 
Grail Castle in 172-73 and 178, 
double origin 182, 191, special form 
of Quest 198-99 and 203, parallel 
with Sleeping Beauty 203. 

Helie de Borron, 105-06, testimony of 
118-19, 121. 

Helinandus, 52, 95, 103, 121. 

Helyas 83 = Ysaics 84. 

Hennessy 159. 

Henry II, 118-19. 

Herodias, 100, 254. 

Hertz' views, 124-25. 

How the Great Tuairsgeul etc., 212. 

Hucher, 2, attempt to harmonise con- 
flicting accounts in Borron 82, state- 
ment of views 105-06, criticised by 
Birch-Hirschfeld 111 and 118, 130, 
and cauldron 184. 

Icluna, apples of, 182. 

John the Baptist, 100. 

Jonaans, 83, 84. 

Joseph of Arimathea, Joseph legend, 
65-67, 69, 70, and Grail 70-73, 74, 
77, and England 78-80, 81, 82, 84, 
88, 89, 90, 93, 94, 99, 100, 104-109, 
112-117, 124, 146, and the Fisher 
208, 218, Apocryphal legend of 220- 
24, 226. 

Joseph, Metrical, poem by Robert de 
Borron, numbered B 2, author of 5, 
65-66, 68, 70-73, 74-76, 77-80, two 
accounts in 81-82, 88, 91, 93-94, 
102-103, relation to Didot-Perceval 
according to Birch-Hirschfeld 112- 
14, 125. 

Josephes (son of Joseph), and Veronica 
79, 84-86, 109. 

Josue, 66, 84, 85. 

Kay, 130. 

Keating and the treasures of the Tuatha 
de Danann, 184. 

Kennedy's Fellow with the Goat-skin 
134, Castle Knock 159, Great Fool 
159-61, Son of Bad Counsel 199-200, 
Fionn's visit to Guana 201, haunted 
castle tale 204, 257. 

Kiot, 6, San Marte's view 99-100, 107 
-08, 121, and Wolfram 261-63. 



Klinschor, 253, 263. 

Knight Errantry, 229. 

Knighthood, prototype of in Celtic 
tradition 231. 

Knights of the Red Branch, 231. 

Knowles' Said and Saiyid, 196. 

Koch, Kyffhiiuser Sage 197. 

Kohler, 195. 

Kundry in Wagner 254-55, 263. See 
Loathly Damsel. 

Kupp on Pseudo-Chrestien 8, 126, and 
the branch 193, 262. 

Kynddelw, 219. 

Lanibar, 83-84, 86, 183. 

Lame King, see Maimed King. 

Lance, 109, and Grail legend according 
to Birch-Hirschfeld 111, 113, 121. 

Lancelot, 83, 84, 108, 110, 112, 118, 
119, 123, 172-173, 180, 240, 245. 

Latin original of French romances 
probable, 122. 

Liebrecht, 197-98. 

Llyr Llediath 219-20. 

Loathly Damsel, 87, and Rosette 114, 
in Mabinogi and Chrestien 136, 
hero's cousin 139-41, double origin 
of in romances 205-06, and Wagner 

Longis, 70. 

Luces de Gast, 118-19. 

Luces (Lucius) 91, 219. 

Lufamour, 147. 

Lug Lamhfhada, 184, 189, 192. 

Mabinogi of Peredur (generally Mabi- 
nogi sometimes Peredur) numbered 
H 3, 5, 66, 68, 69, Villemarque on 
97-98, 89, Simrock on 100, 101, 
Nash 102, 104, Hucher 106, lateness 
of according to Birch-Hirschfeld 
114-115, 125-26, relation to Conte 
du Grraal 131-37, dwarves incident 
in 134, greater delicacy in Blanche- 
fleur incident 135, blood drops 
incident 137-38, differences with 
Chrestien 138-39, machinery of 
Quest in 139-42, relation to Manes- 
sier 142-44, origin and development 
of 143145, special indebtedness to 
Chrestien 145, 146, relation to Sir 
Perceval 148-49, counsels in 150, 
apparent absence of Grail from 151, 
comparison with Great Fool tale 
154-57, with Great Fool Lay 161- 
62, 164, with Gerbert's witch inci- 
dent 168-69, 171, visit to Talismans 
Castle in 172-73 and 176, 180, 181, 
183, 184, 190, 216, fusion of nume- 
rous Celtic tales in 225-26, Sex- 
relations in 241, 256. 

Maidens' Castle, parallels to in Celtic 
tradition 191-94. 

Maimed or Lame or Sick King 66, 
83-88, 90, 91, 109, parallel with 
Arthur 122, probable absence from 
Proto Mabinogi 145, belongs to Feud 
Quest 198, parallel to Fionn 202, 

Malory, 236. 

Manaal, 84. 

Manannan mac Lir, 192-94, 208, and 
Bran 219. 

Manessier, numbered A III, 1-2, date 
etc. 4-5, 69-71, 73-74, 77, 81, 88, 
92, 95, 110, 121, 138, relation to the 
Mabinogi 142-46, 168-69, 171, 175, 
disregard of question 180-82, 199, 

Manus, 189-90. 

Mapes or Map, 5, 104, 105, not author 
of Queste or Grand St. Graal accord- 
ing to Birch-Hirschfeld 117-19. 

Martin's views 121-26, KyfFhauser 
hypothesis criticised 197, 198, Wol- 
fram and G-erbert 262. 

Meaux, 120. 

Menglad, 232 f 

Merlin, 92, 114, 124. 

Merlin, Borron's poem, 2, 64D, 105, 
106, 112-13, 117. 

Meyer, Kuno, 209, 233. 

Minnedienst, 240-41. 

Modred, 122. 

Montsalvatch, 66. 

Mordrains, 90, 109-10, 120, 173. 

Morgan la Fay, 122. 

Morvan lez Breiz, 148, 158, 162- 

Moys or Moses, 88-90, 106, 109, 112, 

Mythic conceptions in the romances, 

Nasciens, 76, 83, 85, 120. 

Nash, 102. 

Nibelungenlied, 230, 234, 248. 

Nicodemus, 71. 

Noisi, 137, 233. 

O'Daly, 159-61. 163. 

Odin, 100-01. 

O' Donovan, 185, 209, 213. 

Oengus of the Brug, 191-92, and 
swanmaid 196. 

O'Flanagan, 233. 

Ogma, 188. 

Oisin, 195, 200, and G-wion 210, 232. 

O' Kearney, 201. 

Orgueilleuse, Celtic character of 124 
and 232, illustrates mediaeval mo- 
rality 240-41, 263. 

Osiris, 101. 



Pagan essence of Grail etc. in the 
Christianised romances, 238. 

Partinal, 81, 88, 142-43. 

Parzival, 101, 252-53. See Perceval 
and Wolfram. 

Paulin-Paris, 5, explanation of word 
Grail L03, 111, 116-17, 119. 

Pearson on the Veronica legend 222, 
and St. Brandan 265. 

Peleur, 83. 

Pelicans or Pellehem 83-86, 90. 

Pelles, 83-86, 90. 

Perceval, Perceval- Quest, type hero of 
Quest 66-67, 72, 78, relation to the 
Grail-keeper 80-86, 88-89, 91-92, 
oldest hero of Quest 93, 94, 98, 101, 
102-04, according to Birch-Hirsch- 
feld 110-119, 125, in Didot-Perceval 
and Conte du Graal 127-31, in 
Mabinogi and Conte du Graal 131- 
45, relation to (bespelled) cousin 
139-42, relation of existing versions 
to earliest form 146, in the Thornton 
MS. romance 147-51, hero of Expul- 
sion and Eeturn Formula 153-56, 
parallel with Highland folk-tales 
157-58, relation to Twin Brethren 
folk-tale and dualism in 162-64, 169, 
versions of Quest 171-76, visit to 
the Maidens' Castle 178-79, 180, 
181, significance of Didot-Perceval 
form 182, 187, and sword 189, Castle 
of Maidens 191, 195, 199, parallel 
with Diarmaid 202, possible hero of 
Haunted Castle form 204-05, relation 
to Fisher 207, his silence 211-14, 
226, superiority to Galahad Quest 
236, 237-38, 240-41, 245, 247, 254, 
256, 261-62. See also Parzival and 

Perceval's aunt, 79. 

Perceval's sister, 83-84, 163. 

Perceval's uncle, 78. 

Perceval le Gallois, numbered G 3, 
authorship 6, 65-66, 69, 104, 121, 
126, 246. 

Peredur (hero of Mabinogi = Perceval), 
Peredur-saga, 106, mother of 115, 
132-36, parallel to Tom of the Goat- 
skin 134, the sword test 138, hero 
of the stag hunt 139-42, 143, original 
form of saga 144-45, 153-54, 157, 
162, 163, 164, 168-69, and Fionnl87 
and 203, 220, fish absent from 224, 
genesis and growth of 225-227, 228, 
Blanchefleur incident in 241. See 

Peronnik 1'idiot, 125, 158. 

Perseus, 256. 

Petrus, 77, 82, 88-90, 106, 109, 112, 
connection with Geoffrey conversion 
legend 219. 

Pfaffe Amis, 265. 

Pilate, 65, 70. 

Potter Thompson and Arthur, 198, 

Potvin, 1, 2, 6, his views 104, 174, 177- 

Prester John, 100. 

Procopius, 191. 

Promised or Good Knight, and Grail 
Keeper 80-86, Galahad as 85-86 
work of 86-91, qualifications of 92- 
93, 107, 109. 

Prophecy incident in Grail romances, 

Pseudo-Chrestien, 8, 209. 

Pseudo-Gautier, numbered Alia 2, 15 
-16, 70, 72, 74, 77, 79, 81, 95. 

Pseudo-Manessier, numbered A Ilia 
2, 19, 72-73. 

Queste del St. Graal, numbered D 2-3, 
varying redactions . distinguished 
typographically 38, 65-67, 72, 75- 
76, 79, three drafts of 83-86, 90-91, 
glorification of virginity in 93, 95, 
103, 107, relation to Grand St. Graal 
108-09, to Conte du Graal 110-11, 
112, 113, authorship of 117-20, 121, 
126, 131, 146, visit to Grail Castle 
in 172-73, 180, 183, 186, 207, 218, 
220, 222, 224, 226, 236, ideal of 238- 
40 and 243-44, ideal criticised 243- 
44, merits of 244-45, 246, inferiority 
to Wolfram 250, 251. 

Question, Birch-Hirschfeld's opinion 
171, 180, belongs to TJnspelling 
Quest 181-82, 191, 196, 203, Wol- 
fram's presentment 249-50. 

Ked Knight, 147-49, 155-56, 162, 189. 

Kenan on Celtic poetry, 234-35. 

Rhys, 198, 209, 211, Bran legend 219- 
20, 265. 

Eich Fisher or King. See Fisher King. 

Kiseut, 141. 

.Robert de Borron. See Borron. 

Eochat, 19, his views 101-02. 

Eoland, 229, 232. 

Eomenie, 118. 

Eosette, 130, 141. See Loathly Damsel. 

Salmon of Wisdom, 209-10. 

San Marte, views 99-100, 101-02, and 
Wolfram 250-5. 

Sarras, 72, 77, 79. 

Schroder, Brandan legend 264-65. 

Seat, empty or Perillous, 81-82, 88-90. 

Secret wards, 73, 89, 179. 

Seraphe 108. 

Sex-relations in Middle Ages, 240-42. 



Siegfried, 157, 162, 203, 210, 232-33. 

Simei, 90. 

Simrock, views 100-101, 103, 132, 134, 

164, 251, 261-62. 
Skeat, 104. 

Skene, 219-20. 

Sleep and the Magic Castle myth 202- 

Sleeping Beauty, parallel with Hem- 
rich's version 203, ethical import of 

Solomon's sword, 84. See Sword. 

Sons of Usnech, 137, 233. 

Sorceresses of Gloucester, 101, 139, 156. 

Spontaneity of folk tradition, 254, 257- 

Stag Hunt in Conte du G-raal and 
Mabinogi 139-40, in Didot-Perceval 
141, parallel with Lay of Great 
Fool 162. 

Steinbach on Sir Perceval 147-50. 

Stephens, 219-20. 

Stokes, 188, 200, 233. 

Suetonius, 116. 

Sword, 113, 142, belongs more to Feud 
Quest 180-82, found also in Un- 
spelling Quest 183, of Lug 184, in 
Celtic myth 187-90, 198-99. 

Taboo and Geasa, 214. 

Taliesin, 97, 186, and Oisin 210-11. 

Templars, 100. 

Tennyson, 236, 244. 

Tethra, 188. 

Thor, Irish parallels to 200-01. 

Thornton MS. Sir Perceval (often 
simply Sir Perceval), numbered I 4, 
66, 68-69, 101-02, 125, 126, Stein- 
bach's theory of 147-50, criticised 
149, absence of Grail from 151, 
connection with Great Fool tale 154 
-58, 162, 164-65, witch incident 169, 
190, 225. 

Tir-na n-Og, 191, 195, 223, 248, 264. 

Titurel, 66. 

Titus, 107. 

Trinity, symbolizing of, 88. 

Tuatha de Danann, treasures of 184- 
85, 189-92, 223, 230. 

Two Brothers tale, 157, 162-63. 

Ultonian cycle 185. 

Unspelling Quest 181, Celtic parallels 
to 190-206, 208. 

Urban (Urlain), 83, 84, 183. 

Van Santen, 252. 

Vanishing of Bespelled Castle, 202-03. 

Veronica (Verrine) 79, 116, Ward's 
theory 222. 

Vespasian, 107, 116. 

Vessel in Celtic myth, 184, in Ultonian 
cycle 185, in Welsh myth 186, in 
Celtic folk-tales 187. See Grail. 

Villemarque, views 97-98, 101, 131, 

Virginity, 247. 

Wagner, 252-54. 

Ward, 220, 222. 

Wartburg Krieg and Brandan legend, 

William of Malmesbury, 105, Zarncke's 
opinion of 107, 115, Ward's opinion 
of 220. 

Windisch, 188, 219. 

Witch who brings the dead to life, 

Wolfram von Eschenbach, numbered 
F 3, sources 6, 25-26, 65-67, 69, and 
Gerbert 92, 99-102, 104, 107, 121- 
25, 150, 157, brother incident in 
164, 172-73, branch in 193, magician 
lord 199, account of mediaeval mora- 
lity 240-4], 246, ideal of 248-52, 
254, 255, 256, pattern for future 
growth of legend 261, relation to 
Chrestien 261-63. 

Woman in Celtic tradition 231-33. 

Wiilcker, Evangelium .Nicoderni, 220- 

Zarncke, views 106-07, 115, 132, 220. 



PN Nutt, Alfred Trubner 

686 Studies on the legend of 

G7N8 the Holy Grail 



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